The Underground Coal Mine Fire in Centralia


On May 27, 1962, an underground coal mine began burning under the borough of Centralia, in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is believed that the fire was caused by the deliberate burning of trash in a strip mine, which then ignited a deposit of coal. Several attempts to extinguish the fire over a period of nearly two decades had failed. By 1984, the United States Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved to the nearby communities of Mount Carmel and Ashland. A few families decided to stay despite warnings from Pennsylvania mining and environmental officials. The Centralia area has now grown to be a tourist attraction. Visitors come to see the smoke on Centralia's empty streets and the abandoned portion of Highway 61, popularly referred to as the Graffiti Highway. However, the Pennsylvania State Police have recently begun patrolling the area, strictly enforcing a "no trespassing" policy. The 2006 horror film, Silent Hill, was partially inspired by the ghost town of Centralia.
 

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