Will the Fires That Made Centralia a Ghost Town Ever Go Out?
The smallest municipality in Pennsylvania is Centralia a former mining community located about two hours north west of Philadelphia. Records tell US had one thousand, four, hundred and thirty five residents in the year nineteen sixty. Today fewer than ten people still live there. The US Postal. Service revoked and trailer Zip Code in two thousand two and the local portion of state route sixty one was permanently closed off nine years before that. We can't blame. The areas decline on the usual socioeconomic suspects. Its problems run deeper literally since at least nineteen sixty to a coal seam fire has been smoldering right below the town. Yes, in. The Earth has been smoking. An ash has been raining down for over fifty years. No one knows exactly how the coal fire got started, but whatever set the thing off this long lived. Blaze isn't some kind of one off luke. Naturally occurring coal deposits are called seems in the mining industry, and wherever such veins occur whole seem fires like the one under Centralia may break out and commonly do. China's three thousand mile or five thousand kilometer coal mining belt is notorious for its seemed fires a so as a town in India where fires have claimed about forty one million tons of coal since nineteen eighteen. We spoke by email with a new TMA per cash, a geologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She said the issue is more prevalent in areas. Where coal was extracted in the past with limited efforts to ensure that the whole left, the extraction was filled up. She explained that mines that don't provide structural support to keep ground from collapsing. Likewise risk seem fire outbreaks. Granted humans aren't always responsible. Though down in new, south Wales Australia, there's a famous coal seam that's been burning for six thousand years straight scientists think it was first ignited by an ancient brushfire or lightning strike. A coal doesn't need much encouragement to catch fire under the right circumstances, the material can actually light itself ablaze through spontaneous combustion. We also spoke by with research geologist Alain Coker. He explained the decomposition of Pyrite President in coal produces heat, and in some cases, the self heating can start the coal on fire. This is a problem even where coal is transported long distances and ships. By most accounts, Centralia great fire began at a dump near the local odd fellows cemetery on May, twenty seventh of nineteen, sixty two. This landfill was intentionally set ablaze was six volunteer firefighters, standing by. It was all part of a yearly cleanup effort by the local government. Controlled Burns were popular garbage disposal technique back then, but things didn't always go according to plan. Perhaps this fire ran deeper into the trash than anybody realized if so, it could have spread through the refuse and entered the nearest coal mine pit with no one being the wiser. Than again, be the town. Government had nothing to do with it. Some have argued that different garbage fire at the same site. A lit by an unidentified truck driver is what really sealed Centralia fate. Another less popular theory claims the coal seam fire started all the way back in the Great Depression and went unextinguished for decades before the nineteen sixties gave it a new lease on life. Regardless. The inferno made itself right at home, sweeping through mine tunnels and coal seams, flames descended as far as three hundred feet, ninety meters below the ground, sometimes nearing temperatures of one, thousand, three hundred fifty degrees, Fahrenheit or seven hundred thirty Celsius. According to an investigation in two thousand twelve has a tway's underlying. Some four hundred acres or sixty hectares of land, had been touched by the blaze at sometime or other. Coker said uncontrolled coalfires have all the potential environmental impacts of burning coal for power generation with none of the benefits in addition to emitting carbon dioxide, trace metals, such as mercury and harmful. Fine particles are emitted. Per, cash noted that methane and sulfur dioxide are also common and so distinctive that just talking about these fires virtually floods her with memories of the sent. To this day, smoke rises from the earth through fishers around Centralia. Meanwhile, the terrain has become perilously unstable over time. Her cash said these fires are dangerous as land can suddenly collapsed or sink as the fire just eats up the ground underneath such collapses can damaged houses roads. Train tracks etc.. That's why Pennsylvania closed off four thousand feet, or about one thousand two hundred meters of route sixty one back in nineteen, ninety-three subterranean pillars held up the pavement, were destroyed or weakened by the flames, making the roadway totally unsuitable for motorists. So Wilson Trail is fire ever burn out? Extinguishing so-far haven't paid off. Between nineteen sixty to nineteen eighty-two assorted government agencies spent seven million dollars fighting. This entrails a qualifier openings sealed trenches were dug, and the minds were stuffed with non-combustible. And crushed rocks, but nothing worked. Nearly all of Centralia former residents are long gone. Many took advantage of a forty two million dollar tax payer funded relocation initiative, which saw five hundred buildings destroyed. The final holdouts have been granted permission to spend the rest of their lives in the town as per eight thousand thirteen settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the state's Department of Environmental, protection the fire might keep on raging for over a hundred years yet to come. But as bad as they can get coal seam, buyers aren't invincible. Kosh said good policies on mining safety and reclamation go a long way as preventative measure, if a fire does start taking quick action to contain it by isolating the fire, dousing the fire, cooling the area and continued monitoring to ensure that the fire does not start again are important measures. Centralia? Hellish effect made it part of the inspiration for the two thousand six horror film silent. The departure from the video game series that it was adapted from. And over the past thirty odd years town Centralia not silent hill has become an unlikely tourist destination. One former attraction was the abandoned stretch of route sixty one dubbed the graffiti highway at attracted masses of street artists who added a rainbow of cartoons and signatures to the pavement. However in two thousand twenty, the corporation that owns the undrivable road, had covered up with piles of dirt. Dissuade visitors from swinging by during the covid nineteen pandemic.