Categorized | Featured, Health, News, Sci-Tech, Volcano

Noxious fumes surround hikers, tour guide dead as three escape

By Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Steam rises off the active lava flow in a rainstorm. File Photo courtesy of USGS/HVO.

Steam rises off the active lava flow in a rainstorm. File Photo courtesy of USGS/HVO.

Fire/rescue responded to an 8:15 a.m. alarm Thursday (Feb 1) to the Kalapana lava viewing area in the old Royal Gardens Subdivision to rescue hikers from noxious fumes.

Four hikers, a hiking guide leading three others, were hiking near the lava flow when it started raining which created a noxious steam cloud surrounding the group affecting their breathing and vision. The group was called for help.

The tour guide was overcome by the noxious steam cloud while the three visitors escaped to safe location. Chopper One flew in and found the three people safely away from the fumes then located the unresponsive tour guide in another location. The tour guide was airlifted to a medic unit and he was determined to be dead. Choppers One and Two were able to airlift the three other people who sustained minor injuries and they did not need further medical attention.

In social media posts condolences have been left identifying the fallen guide as Hawaii Stargzing Adventures owner and tour guide Sean King of Pahoa, Hawaii.

Volcanic gases produced from Hawaii’s active volcano can be hazardous to people, animals and plants. The USGS explains some of the dangers as part of their Volcano Hazards Program.

In April 1993 Kona photographer Prem Nagar died at the ocean entry area of a Kilauea lava flow when the lava bench, an unstable area of new lava land which is undercut by the ocean, collapsed. Nagar’s body was never recovered.

According to a November 2014 edition of the Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health between 1983 and 2003 five deaths occured when visitors were exposed directly to SO2 gas exposure. One person had a history of asthma, the other four deaths occured when the victims ignored warning signs for off-limit areas. The report said another closer study indicated 28 asthma and respiratory distress related deaths between 1993 and 2002 from Kilauea.

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