Perhaps you have been watching the Puna lava flow on the Big Island (also known as the June 27th lava flow) as it slowly creeps towards the town of Pahoa. What an awful feeling to know lava is headed towards your home and yet there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent the pending disaster. To make matters worse, the lava flow seems to have stalled for now, just dragging out the inevitable.
I found a really interesting video "What to expect lava flows in Puna" explaining how these lava flow eruptions on Kilauea (the active volcano on Big Island) work, using the town of Kalapana (which was engulfed with lava in the 1990s) as an example. The video is 15 minutes long and has some really cool time lapse videos. This video was produced by Dr Cheryl Gansecki of Volcano Video Productions in cooperation with Hawaii Civil Defense.
Kilauea is Big Island's active volcano - it is currently having one of the most long-lived eruptions (the eruption started in 1983 and has so far lasted 21 years).
Can you see the lava flow? No - the lava flow areas are off limits to the public. There is an official State of Emergency in the district which means you really want to stay out of trouble.