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Nugget of Knowledge: Centralia, Pennsylvania

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Around 1,400 people lived their in 1960, not quite 10 live there today

(WYTV) – Centralia, Pennsylvania is still burning. It’s a former mining community two hours northwest of Philadelphia.

Around 1,400 people lived their in 1960, not quite 10 live there today.

The post office took away its zip code in 2002 and Pennsylvania closed off Route 61 where it crosses Centralia.

Centralia’s great fire began at a trash dump. That’s the number one theory.

On Sunday, May 27th, 1962, the town set a trash pile on fire with firefighters standing by. It was part of a yearly cleanup, a controlled burn.

But the fire ran deeper into the trash than anybody realized. It got into a coal mine pit and started to spread along a seam.

Today it burns as deep as 300 feet, as hot as 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, covering at least 400 acres.

The ground collapses from time to time, smoke comes from the earth, almost everyone has left and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says the fire might keep burning underground a hundred years from now.

The closed highway is now private property. It’s called the Grafitti Highway because it’s attracted tourists and artists, but the company that owns it, covered it with dirt just this year to keep people away and the State Police patrol the area for trespassers.

Geologists say a famous coal seam in Australia has been burning for six thousand years….maybe due to an ancient lightning strike.

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