(HONOLULU) — Lava from the Kilauea volcano eruption on the Big Island in Hawaii makes for very photogenic selfies and social media posts, but authorities are cracking down on thrill-seekers who are getting too close for comfort.
Since the volcano first erupted on May 3, bubbling lava, molten rock and fissures have forced thousands of residents to evacuate the area. Some visitors, however, have posted selfies standing mere feet away from rivers of lava.
Seattle resident Ruth Groza posted a photo on Instagram early Thursday morning and said in the caption that she and a friend went to the location, thanks to a local resident. “We were the first people he took out here and some of the first people on earth to stand next to this flow,” she wrote.
Groza told ABC News she was traveling with her friend Braden Lood, who also posted a selfie on Instagram.
Government officials in Hawaii have arrested or cited at least a dozen people in the past 10 days.
Officials told ABC News they are increasing fines to $5,000 and adding up to a year behind bars if someone is caught taking photos.
Hawaii police have also set up roadblocks to prevent nonresidents from entering nearby neighborhoods to take photos.
The Kilauea volcano eruption shows no signs of abating, and new video shows a raging river of lava spewing from an open fissure. The fast-moving lava has reportedly flowed at a rate of 15 mph in some places.
More than 500 homes have been destroyed or damaged from the hot lava as the National Guard continues its efforts to assess the damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the lava flow continues with “little change.”
Access for news crews has become even more limited since the first eruption, and ABC News correspondents were required to wear special masks as officials monitored air quality on-site.
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Source: ABC National News