Some visitors eager to get a glimpse of lava flowing from the eruption of Mauna Loa are causing headaches for Hawaii officials.
“We’ve been seeing people being really disrespectful, putting trash out there, throwing marshmallows into the lava,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth told Hawaii News Now.
“Not only is that bad for the environment and people are trespassing, but it’s disrespectful to Hawaiians and their love for Madame Pele and the culture of Hawaii,” Roth said. “It’s really bad. So we ask people to be respectful.”
Visitors also are entering closed areas and parking illegally, Big Island Now reported.
Denise Laitinen with the Hawaii Police Department said officers issued three citations Wednesday, Dec. 7, for illegal parking, according to the publication.
Local and state officials are working to determine penalties for people who enter closed areas during the eruption.
Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting at about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 27, McClatchy News reported. It’s the volcano’s first eruption since 1984.
The eruption is confined to Moku‘āweoweo, the summit caldera of the 13,100-foot volcano, but lava has overflowed the caldera, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory reported.
No communities are threatened, but one flow is about 1.8 miles from Saddle Road, also known as Daniel K. Inouye Highway. It’s advancing about 21 yards per hour.
It’s not clear how long the eruption will continue. The volcano has erupted 33 times since 1845, averaging once every five years.