Apparently, some people see an open flame and immediately think, 'smores!’ In response to a Twitter inquiry, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) agency has had to issue a warning in Hawaii against roasting marshmallows over volcanic vents.
Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, which has seen increased activity in the past few weeks, has finally erupted, destroying dozens of homes and displacing over 2,000 residents on Hawaii's Big Island
In a tweet, Jay Furr from Richmond, Vermont, asked the USGS, “Is it safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents? Assuming you had a long enough stick, that is? Or would the resulting marshmallows be poisonous?” The agency politely responded “Erm. We’re going to have to say no, that’s not safe. (Please don’t try!)” adding that the resulting marshmallows would leave a "bad taste" in Furr’s mouth and cause a "pretty spectacular reaction." Volcanic vents release foul smelling sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, resulting in vog, or volcanic smog.
Last week, the agency warned locals that being exposed to fumes from the molten rock flows could be toxic. Also, one man was hit by a flying molten rock while sitting on his balcony, which lead to serious injuries. The USGS has also issued a red-level aviation code, meaning an eruption is imminent or underway with substantial volcanic ash and plume in the air.
Kilauea has been active for the past 35 years and in recent weeks the increased flow of lava has extended to the backyards of many residents. As of today, the flow has destroyed 82 structures and houses, including the home Petra Wiesenbauer, who owns a B&B.
Wiesenbauer has moved into a rental home, telling USA Today that she received a call from her neighbor on Sunday informing her that “his house was on fire and mine was next.” The neighbor watched his home as it was destroyed by lava flows from Wiesenbauer's roof.
“A week ago I mowed the grass. There was this hope things would normalize, stabilize, and we’d be able to move back,” Wiesenbauer added. When she returned, her home was “just a pile of rubble” with “nothing left.”
The eruption of the volcano has already had serious economic repercussions for Hawaii’s Big Island as the closure of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park could end up costing the island’s economy more than $200 million, the National Park Service said.