Impossible to put out: The underground fire that started burning in 1962 and will continue to do so for another 250 years

Impossible to put out: The underground fire that started burning in 1962 and will continue to do so for another 250 years

Impossible to put out: The underground fire that started burning in 1962 and will continue to do so for another 250 yearspinterest

It’s a story that sounds like it’s straight out of a science fiction novel, and yet it’s completely true. There is a village in Pennsylvania (United States of America), called Centraliain the basement where A. grew up Underground fire Accidentally started over 60 years old According to scientists’ estimates, it will continue in space Another 250 years.

It all started in 1962, when this city’s garbage dump caught fire, which was in a very bad location: on top of an abandoned coal mine. This caused a fire in a surface layer of coal to ignite and spread to all the mines located below the city. All attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful and the fire continued into the 1960s and 1970s, causing many neighbors to be poisoned by carbon monoxide.

The fire originated in the waste dump located in an old coal mine

It was an underground fire, invisible, but the underground burned slowly and without stopping. In 1979, the true extent of the problem became apparent when a gas station owner inserted a dipstick into one of his underground fuel tanks to check the level. He took out the stick and was surprised to find that it was very hot. He lowered a thermometer tied to a string and saw The temperature of gasoline in the tank was 78 degrees Celsius. This was clearly a serious threat, so this gas station had to close.

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Then, in 1981, A 12-year-old boy fell into a ravine Which unexpectedly opened under his feet. After his rescue, it was found that this hole was tens of meters deep. Thus the United States Congress received letters to this effect and approved the evacuation of Centralia, for which it made a provision of over $40 million. Almost the entire population, about a thousand, went to other cities, although some continued to live there. Finally, in 1992 Penn State – Confiscation of all buildings in the municipality In 2002, the Postal Service removed the city’s zip code.

A ghost town with almost no buildings

Today, Centralia A Ghostly appearanceIt is inhabited by only dozens of residents. Most of the streets and squares are full of plants. Many homes, more than 500, were demolished, coinciding with the evacuation of residents. And then, Coal under the sun continues to burn. It is estimated that there are materials that help this fire remain active for another 250 years. The visitor may be surprised that there are no flames or smoke in the area, but at a depth of 1,600 meters below the surface of the earth, the flames are still consuming coal. But the truth is that there is some smoke coming out through the roof, spreading in the area.

David DecockA journalist from the area and author of a book about the Centralia disaster explained to the BBC that “one of the neighbors who decided to stay in the town spent the past few years covering the cracks with dirt and the cement smoke that came out of them.” He wants to believe that fire does not exist“.

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The village before and after the demolition of houses

Neither injecting large amounts of water underground nor digging large trenches around the affected area to stop the fire helped solve the problem. On the contrary, it has been revived in some cases. This is what happened with the drilling of more than 50 wells to monitor the development of the fire, which more than one did The situation is aggravated by the ingress of oxygen.

The case of Centralia is a case in point“zombie fires”which burns underground slowly and continuously, changing the cohesion of the land, threatening infrastructure and releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, because what is burned more often are peatlands, that is, accumulations of decomposing organic matter.

Warning sign

Contact Department of the Environment: [email protected].

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