Welcome to Centralia, a small town located in east-central Pennsylvania. Forty-six years ago, this used to be a bustling coal-mining town with over 2,500 residents. Today, Centralia is not even listed in most maps and its population has dwindled down to ten, thanks to a fire that cannot be extinguished.
It all began in 1962, when workers burnt a landfill (trash) in the pit of an abandoned strip coal mine (a mine right below the surface of the ground). After allowing it to burn for a few hours, they extinguished it and left. However, the hot embers from the fires caught on to the coal vein that ran just below the surface of the strip mine and erupted in the pit a few days later.
Once again the fire was put out or so they thought. However, by now the coal, of which there is plenty under the surface of this town, had caught fire. For the next twenty years, firemen tried everything to try put out the fire. They flushed the mines with water, dug trenches, cleaned out the burning material, tried to find the boundaries and put it out or at least contain it. Nothing worked! - It is estimated that over $66 million US Dollars has been spent on the endeavor (attempt).
By 1980, it was decided that the carbon monoxide fumes from the smoldering fire posed a health hazard for the town residents, and the Federal Government spent $44 million dollars relocating them. All but ten of the residents agreed to move.
Forty-six years later, the fire continues to smolder under the town, thanks to the rich coal deposits underneath. Experts estimate that there is enough coal there to keep it burning for another century (100 years).
Today Centralia is a ghost town frequented by its ten residents and visited by a few curious tourists. The Federal Government owns the land and has razed down most of the homes.
What a sad but fascinating story. If you want to look at more pictures of the town before and after (the fire) and read more on this topic go to : http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm