46-Year Old Mine Fire Continues To Smolder
Forty-six years ago Centralia, a small town located in east-central Pennsylvania used to be a bustling coal-mining town with over 2,500 residents. Today, it is not even listed in most maps and its population has dwindled down to 10, thanks to a fire that cannot be extinguished.
It all began in 1962, when workers burnt a landfill in the pit of an abandoned coal mine that lay right below the surface of the ground. After allowing it to burn for a few hours, they extinguished it and left.
However, 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 put out the fire. They flushed the mines with water, dug trenches, cleaned out the burning material and even tried to find the boundaries to try contain it. But nothing worked. It is estimated that over $66 million USD has been spent on this endeavor.
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 USD relocating them. All but ten of the residents agreed to move.
Today, 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. 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, giving it a really abandoned look.
What a sad but fascinating story. To see more pictures of how the town looked before the fire and how it currently looks go to: http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/centralia.htm