June 22, 2018 5:10 pm
Updated: June 25, 2018 10:28 am

People being arrested in Hawaii for taking ‘lava selfies’ near Kilauea volcano

WATCH: Close-up video of one of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano fissures on May 12 shows stunning images of lava spurting out into the air before landing, as well as it flowing across the land starting grass fires.


Lava continues to pour forth from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, consuming buildings and causing problems on the Big Island. A new problem has arisen for police monitoring the area — lava selfies.

According to Hawaii`s Department of Land and Natural Resources, dozens of people have been cited for loitering in the island`s off-limits areas near lava flows.

As of June 19, the department said it had cited 47 people since the eruptions began in early May.

WATCH: Kilauea volcano sends so-called ‘lavaberg’ floating off to sea

In a citation issued Tuesday, officials said two people had trespassed for social media purposes.

“The officer who cited the pair today said they were wearing respirators and said they were enticed by social media postings which continue to show others illegally entering the evacuation zone to photograph or tape active lava flows,” a news release from the department reads.

Ruth Groza of Seattle was one person who took a photo near a lava flow.

WATCH: Coverage of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano

“I cannot believe this is happening,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday, saying she and a friend befriended a local resident. “We were the first people he took out here and some of the first people on earth to stand next to this flow.”

Groza was just one of many who posted their photos on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Officials are warning people not to do so, with Governor David Ige having issued a proclamation earlier this month giving judges the option to impose fines of up to $5,000 and a year in jail for people convicted of being in a closed area.

WATCH: Fast-flowing lava reaches the Sea Off Hawaii

Last week, three people who had received citations pleaded no contest, with two people fined $500 each and the third receiving 50 hours of community service.

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