Park rangers cite visitors to Hawaii volcano eruption site

HONOLULU (AP) - Park rangers cited dozens of people who gathered in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness an ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano.
The rangers said those quoted ventured into dangerous areas to snap photos and videos of the volcanic eruption that created a lava lake in its crater on Thursday that was 169 meters deep.
"All it takes is a slight change in wind direction and these perpetrators could inhale a fatal dose of volcanic gas," said Chief Ranger Jack Corrao. "One misstep or a crumbling cliff edge and you could plunge into the huge pit of molten rock or down to the crater floor. We want to keep the park open so everyone can safely experience this beautiful new eruption. However, when visitors enter confined areas, the rangers have to be up these few people concentrate. This puts our employees in dangerous situations. "
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The eruption was contained in an area of ​​the park that has been closed since 2007 and which has dangerous levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions and volcanic glass particles, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.
Fines for violating national park rules start at $ 150, said Jessica Ferracane, a spokeswoman for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The fines increase after multiple violations and can result in their being expelled from the park.
Ferracane had told The Associated Press that a crowd of cars had lined up at the park entrance to catch a glimpse of the outbreak, which began on December 20.
Paradise Helicopters, a helicopter tour company, reported a significant increase in bookings as a result of the outbreak and subsequent months of limited business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company had booked all planes and pilots on Monday and made nine flights - a number that has not been seen since the pandemic began. Before March, Paradise Helicopters were flying up to 40 flights a day, said Bronsten Kossow, the company's operations manager.
It is the first time since 2018 that the Hawaii volcano has erupted. The two years of relative silence came after more than three decades of constant eruption from 1983 to 2018. Around 700 houses were destroyed in an outbreak in 2018.

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