Hawaii volcano generates blue flames from burning methane

Steam rises as lava enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island

Steam rises as lava enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island

It knocked him backward on the third-floor porch of his neighbour's home on the eastern end of the Big Island, where most people had evacuated amid three weeks of heightened volcanic activity on Kilauea.

Nearby, stunning blue flames were seen spouting from cracks in the road, caused by the release of methane as lava burns plants and trees.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has warned the volcano's danger zone runs several kilometres along the coast and forms a "curving line of volcanoes" with Mauna Kea and Kohala.

The latest back-to-back upheavals of ash from the main summit crater of Kilauea - one before dawn and another several hours later - came on the 21st day of what geologists rank as one of the biggest eruption cycles in a century from one of the world's most active volcanoes. The lava has been pouring down the flank of the volcano and into the ocean miles away. The caustic plume, which can be fatal if inhaled, is the latest hazard in an eruption that shows no signs of stopping. Laze, a word combination of lava and haze, contains hydrochloric acid steam along with volcanic glass particles.

The eruption has so far destroyed 50 buildings, including about two dozen homes.

Lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure flows past trees downed by lava towards the Pacific Ocean on Hawaii's Big Island
Wells are hurriedly plugged at Hawaii power plant under threat of lava flow

Molten lava crept into the grounds of a geothermal power plant site, as workers rushed to shut down the facility to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases. "I didn't care if they cut my leg off down there or not", Clinton said. It is really unpleasant, you have got this hydrogen chloride so it's a chloride gas and sulphur dioxide.

The volcano erupted at least twice last weekend, with a cloud of ash reaching up to 10,000 high at one point.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant was hit by the molten lava yesterday.

A man named Darryl Clinton was left seriously injured after being hit by a lava bomb while he was sitting in his porch at the weekend, according to Hawaii County Civil Defence Administrator Talmadge Magno.

"It was the most forceful impact I've ever had on my body in my life", Clinton told a crowd of reporters from his hospital bed on Tuesday.

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