The 57 Year Old Fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania

A month after I was born, the town fathers (or maybe they should be known as the village idiots) of Centralia, Pennsylvania thought it would be a good idea to burn the county landfill.  This garbage dump was located next to a coal strip mine in operation since 1935.  The fire ignited an underground coal seam, and it is still burning 57 years later.  3 major attempts to extinguish the fire failed.  Authorities estimate the fire will keep burning for another 250 years, and it will continue to release mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, heavy metals, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide–all the poisons found in coal.  Heat from the underground fire buckles streets and kills trees.

Centralia

Location of Centralia, Pennsylvania.

Centralia

Aerial view of Centralia–abandoned homes and dead brown trees.

Centralias PA, route 61

This road is destroyed and smoke sometimes comes through the cracks.  These photos and more can be found within this Business Insider article.  https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-abandoned-centralia-pa-2012-5#centralia-is-a-borough-in-the-northeastern-mountains-of-pennsylvania-in-2002-the-us-postal-service-revoked-the-towns-zip-code-17927-1

The town of 1,492 people became quite uninhabitable. During 1984 Congress allocated $42 million to relocate the residents, and the population today is 5.  I tried to determine if wildlife has moved into the area since the people left (like what happened at Chernobyl and the Korean demilitarized zone), but I can’t find anything about it.  For sure this ghost town is an example of the folly of man and in stark contrast to the blog article I wrote last week describing the travels of a man who visited Pennsylvania when it was still mostly a beautiful wilderness.

 

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One Response to “The 57 Year Old Fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania”

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