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Former Pōhakuloa commander talks public safety as people try to get closer to Maunaloa

Hawaii Volcano mauna loa visitors
Gregory Bull/AP
/
AP
People watch lava from the Maunaloa volcano Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaiʻi. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The lava flowing from Maunaloa has some trying to get as close as they can to it. But many don’t realize they may be in danger from more than just the eruption.

Unexploded ordinance, like grenades and artillery shells, could still be looming in the area between Maunaloa and Maunakea known to many as “The Saddle.”

Waimea resident Ed Teixeira can see the glow in the sky from his Hawaiʻi Island home. He's the former vice director of the State Civil Defense, now known as the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.

While serving in the U.S. Army in the 1980s, he was in charge of the nearby Pōhakuloa Training Area.

He said that starting in the early 1940s, the military conducted live fire exercises across the saddle area and as recently as 2016 were planning to conduct a new survey to locate additional unexploded ordinance.

"People are going to try and get as close as they can. And we got to keep reminding them that, you know, hey, look, you are on the boundaries of a training area for live fire ordnance," he told The Conversation.

Discovery of unexploded ordnance prompted a closure of the Maunaloa lava viewing area on Sunday.

Teixeira said it’s important for the public to stay within the lava viewing area off of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and not wander off and try to get closer to the lava.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 5, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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