Ash coats village areas near erupting Alaska volcano

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A village not far from an erupting Alaska volcano urged residents to stay indoors after the mountain rained down ash, coating ground areas and turning some rooftops and car windows black.

The volcano kept pumping out new ash Tuesday that could threaten aircraft, but it came in smaller amounts at lower heights, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Pavlof Volcano, 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, erupted Sunday. The initial eruption continued for about 17 hours and put out an ash cloud that reached 37,000 feet.

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U.S. Geological Survey geologist Kristi Wallace said there were reports of a significant ash fall in Nelson Lagoon, a village of 39 people about 55 miles northeast of the volcano. Residents reported one-eighth to two-thirds of an inch of ash.

Cpl. Barrett Taylor, a village public safety officer in Nelson Lagoon, saw ash falling early Monday.

“It was raining ash for a little bit,” Taylor said. “It turned everything black, the rooftops, the fuel tanks, homes.”

The ash was worse Tuesday, he said, because wind coming in off the ocean was whipping it around.

Officials say ash can be hazardous to eyes, skin and breathing passages.

The community has put out a health advisory to stay inside until Wednesday. Taylor is hoping strong wind or rain will sweep some of the ash away.