Augustine Volcano erupted again Thursday and spewed ash and steam two miles high, prompting the Coast Guard to warn fishing boats to steer away because the exploding mountain “may burn vessels and endanger lives.”
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the new eruption of the 4,025-foot island volcano that burst into life last month after a 10-year silence. Survey spokesman Tom Miller said that chances of a bigger blast “are greatly enhanced” during the next 48 hours.
Ash leaked from holes on the north side of the mountain several hundred feet below the summit, he said. “You can see incandescent material at the summit and glowing blocks of material rolling down the side,” he said.
Herring season opened Sunday and fishing boats were gathering near Augustine Island, where there is $1-million worth of herring and roe, when the volcano started belching ash, gas and steam.
At noon, the Coast Guard began broadcasting a message warning mariners in lower Cook Inlet “to proceed a minimum of seven miles from the Mt. Augustine Volcano due to a reported increase in volcanic activity which indicates a low level eruption is occurring.”
So far this week, 67 tons of herring have been caught in waters around Augustine, said Scott Kyle, a state fisheries biologist in Homer, 70 miles east of Augustine and the port for most of the fishermen. The bulk of the herring has yet to migrate that far north, he said.
The closest boats are about 10 miles from the volcano, Kyle said. He said there are 65 seiners and tenders in the waters near Augustine and seven more boats en route. Each of the vessels carries a crew of three or four.