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'It's kind of an eerie feeling': Utah native living in Hawaii witnesses Mauna Loa eruption

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah native has a front-row seat to the Mauna Loa volcano eruption happening on the Big Island of Hawaii.

David Bryner is originally from St. George and now lives in Kona, where he works as a tennis instructor.

"I was on my way to work and I saw a glow in the sky and lava on the mountain," Bryner recalled.

While on a short trip to Salt Lake City, he talked to KSL about witnessing the historic eruption. The world's largest active volcano erupted for the first time since 1984.

"Mauna Loa is kind of like a legend," Bryner said.

He said locals are both nervous and excited about the lava flow.

"People get into the spiritual nature of Pele, the fire goddess," Bryner explained.

He said during the last week, he's been able to see the red glow coming from the volcano.

Pictures from KSL photojournalist Carissa Hutchinson show a plume of smoke covering the sky, and pieces of Pele's hair, which are strands of volcanic glass that cover the ground on parts of the Big Island.

Smoke from Mauna Loa volcano during the day on the Island of Hawaii.
Smoke from Mauna Loa volcano during the day on the Island of Hawaii. (Photo: Carissa Hutchinson, KSL-TV)

The lava is oozing toward the Big Island's main highway, the Saddle Road. The U.S. Geological Survey's Sunday report said the flow is about 2.3 miles away from the highway.

"A lot of people use that highway to commute to work, and it'll make commutes double or triple the time and really make it not even possible for a lot of the island to function normally," Bryner said.

He said he and others are keeping their eye on the slow-moving fluid.

"Evacuating homes? Yeah," Bryner said. "People have bags packed, and they're ready to go If they need to."

He said they're watching for warnings and updates.

"It's kind of an eerie feeling looking up and seeing red in the sky. It makes you feel very human," Bryner said.


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