The everlasting fire of 1962

By  | 

There is a fire in the United States that has been burning for 50 years and is still burning underground. The hard part is that this fire can continue for another 250 years. The disaster I’m talking about is the Centralia mine fire that first broke out in Pennsylvania in 1962.

Since the 62nd, the depth of the coal seam fire in Centralia has reached 300 feet. The fire is eight miles long and covers 3700 acres underground. The exact cause is unknown, but there are a few ideas on how it got started. The most common explanation is that burning rubbish ignites a coal seam in a cave, which turned into a huge fire.

The Centralia City Council in 1962 attempted to clean up a landfill in a previously closed open mine. The aim was to find a solution to the illegal dumping problem common in the region. Ironically, the State of Pennsylvania passed a law in 1956 regulating dumpsites in open-pit mines because of the danger of fire from a mine.

An inspector from the state (one of the councilors who saw the gaps in the walls of the landfill and on the ground) informed that the pit should be filled with non-flammable materials. But for some reason, the assembly decided to incinerate the site instead of filling it with non-combustible materials. They hired a fire brigade to do this job on May 17, 1962, and the fire started.

The staff managed to extinguish the fire that night.
However, more flames were seen on May 29 and June 4. They tried to move the trash with a bulldozer to access the layers that were still burning, but after a few days, they discovered a 15-foot wide pit hidden under the trash. This pit was thought to lead into old mine tunnels and flammable coal seams. And despite all this, the assembly continued to allow the dumping of garbage on the site.

The work got serious when smoke pits were tested and found that these pits had amounts of carbon monoxide that matched other mine fires. A lethal level of carbon monoxide was detected on August 9 and all mines in the region were closed. Shortly thereafter, an early attempt was made to excavate the area, but opening other mine chambers to reach the fire only made the fire stronger with oxygen. Eventually, the money could not be raised for the project and it had to be stopped. Because the teams could no longer catch up with this deeply growing fire.

In November 1962, the second attempt to stop the fire was set out with the idea of ​​filling the mine and pumping water to areas beyond the visible fire with broken stones mixed with water. In March 1963, capital ran out again, and the cold, snowy winter days greatly affected the company’s ability to fill the land. Until this time in 1963, it was thought that the fire had spread over 700 feet from where it started.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the locals realized that the situation was much more serious than they thought.
In 1981, 12-year-old Todd Dombroski came to the fore when he thought about half of the 4 feet wide and 150 feet deep sinkhole that formed in the backyard of his home. Fortunately, Todd was rescued by his cousin. There was a deadly level of carbon monoxide in the smoke from the pits. The town of Centralia had a serious problem, a fatal problem.

The US Congress in 1984 allocated more than 42 million for the transportation of Centralia residents from the area. Most of the locals left, but some chose to stay. In 1992, the governor of Pennsylvania used his right to expropriate the buildings to expropriate. Some of the people waged a legal struggle but did not succeed. In 2002, the US Postal Service canceled Centralia’s postal code, and in 2012 the last remaining locals were ordered to leave town when they lost their appeal in court.

In 2013, seven people were allowed to live in the region after their property was acquired by expropriation. These were the only remnants of the 2761 people living in the town in 1980. But Centralia was not the only loss of mine fire. The fate of the nearby town of Barnesville was also to be abandoned and buried in history.

It is believed that the Central mine will have enough fuel to burn for another 250 years by reaching large coal seams and underground tunnels. The temperature values ​​at the source of the fire are thought to be more than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and contain other deadly gases mixed with carbon monoxide. Despite the deadly fumes and danger, Centralia became a tourist destination as people went to see the unstoppable fire and the destroyed town.