Residents of a Hawaiian village threatened by lava have begun evacuating as the flow threatens the first house in its path. Two roads to Pahoa have been closed and a cemetery has already been overtaken by the flow from the Kilauea volcano."We are still praying," said Imelda Raras as the lava approaches her house. "I hope our home will be spared."
Kilauea on the Big Island has been erupting since 1983, but lava has recently burst forth from a new vent. The town's residents will be allowed to watch the destruction of their homes "as a means of closure", officials said. And they will be allowed to take photos and video for insurance purposes.
"You can only imagine the frustration as well as... despair they're going through," said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.
Mrs Raras said she and her husband are ready to go to a friend's home if they are ordered to leave.
On Tuesday morning, officials said the lava had crossed into the property of the threatened home on the edge of Pahoa. Many residents of the town of 800 have already left or made plans to do so, Mr Oliveira said. The couple living in the house closest to the flow have evacuated but have been returning to gather belongings, he said.
Can you stop lava?
At temperatures of about 1,000C (1,832F), lava destroys whatever it touches. Its path is notoriously hard to predict. The ability to impede or redirect lava largely depends on location, resources and luck.
Decades ago in Hawaii, the US attempted to bomb a lava flow, only to see the bomb craters refill. In Iceland, crews made use of billions of gallons of cold water around a nearby harbour to cool the lava in place. And barriers along Mount Etna in Italy redirected a flow away from a tourist area. But these attempts have been helped by a natural slowing or halting of lava eruptions.
"You have to be in a wealthy country with a lot at stake to even consider" lava diversion, Dr Shannon Nawotniak told the BBC, particularly given the volume of volcanic eruptions and the potential costs.
"You might buy yourself some time until the volcano stops itself."
"They are out of the property and awaiting the events to unfold."
The flow, now 55yds wide, advanced about 275yds between Sunday morning and Monday morning.
It has been moving at an average of five to 10yds an hour, but has done so fitfully, sometimes slowing down to two yards or speeding up to 20, depending on topography, said Janet Babb, a spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Decomposed vegetation in the lava's path has also produced methane explosions at the front of the flow, Ms Babb said.
"It's not a massive explosion," she said. "But it can dislodge rocks."
After the new vent opened in July, lava threatened a separate community before coming to a standstill in September.