TDISH: A Modern Ghost Town Burning

On May 27, 1962, workers at the dump in Centralia, Pennsylvania lit a fire to burn up some trash – a normal part of their routine.  However, that day was to be anything but normal.  As the workers set the fire, gases rising to the surface from the massive coal seam that lay just below the men caught fire which then caused the coal itself to be ignited.  Despite the best efforts of local and state officials, the fuel source – the coal itself – was just too large for the fire to be brought under control.  As of today, fifty-three years later, the fire still burns underground.  It has killed the majority of vegetation in Centralia and the noxious fumes released by the blaze have caused the vast majority of the once-thriving town to move on.  Today, there is little left of Centralia – much of it has been demolished by officials to keep squatters from moving into the abandoned buildings.  Scientists expect the fire to continue burning for up to 250 more years!

Featured Image: “Smoke Rising from the Centralia Fire.” By Mredden at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Krajick, Kevin. “Fire in the Hole.” Smithsonian Magazine. May 2005.

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