Centralia, PA

Centralia, PA

PostBy: Oo-v-oO On: Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:20 pm

I stumbled across the story of Centralia and the coal fire that has forced the town to be abandoned several years ago and it has fascinated me ever since.
One thing I don't know is what kind of coal this is - is it Anthracite?
Any thoughts on what will be done about the situation?

One of many neat sites here, with pictures:

Stove/Furnace Make: Ashley

PostBy: stokerstove On: Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:07 pm

Yes it is Anthracite. Been thru that little town many times. Last I heard there were still some holdouts living there, but that may have changed.
It's a strange site to drive by and see smoke coming out of the ground and get a good whiff of that sulfur smell!
I was told a story that contractors were hired years ago to try to extinguish the fire and they were close to putting it out when the contract expired. Due to governmental red tape the contractors had to stop their efforts and wait for another contract while the fire grew out of control - don't know if this true or not.
As far as I know they are content to let the fire run it's course.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Kodiak Stokerstove 1

Re: Centralia, PA

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:37 pm

Oo-v-oO wrote:Any thoughts on what will be done about the situation?

That has been burning for decades as you have probably found out. As mentioned above there may be a few holdouts but for the most part the town has been abandoned. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to put one of those fires out, hence the reson the government bought the houses out. I know they did make some efforts to put it pout when it first started but obviously not enough. I've never heard the story of it almost being out but it wouldn't suprise me.

BTW, it's my understanding the coal does not burn in these fires but the gases in the porous rock surrounding it does. Makes sense since the fire would need a tremendous amount of air to continue if it was the coal burning. I could be wrong but that is what I was told.

A few of these pop up now and then and they get right on it, usually in a stripping area. To stop them they remove the burning material and hose it down with water, they keep digging until they removed all the material. There was one just recently in Exeter, I think it took them months to get it out.

Currently there is one that is burning in Laurel Run a borough that suffered the same fate as Centralia, there is some information here: http://www.undergroundminers.com/laurelrun.html

If your familair with the "Giant's Despair" race that is where Laurel Run was located. To this day a particualr portion of the road and areas along this portion will remain snow free.....
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: ktm rider On: Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:28 pm

We have one of these fires here in Lonaconing Md. also. It is an underground fire of course. It has been burning for as long as I can rememeber. It is an odd site to see the smoke and steam coming out of a hillside in the winter...
ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: beaverman On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 5:41 pm

I found an underground coal fire last spring. I was working one day, when I noticed small wisps off smoke rising from a small hill on a reclaimed strip mine. After investigating it I called the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. They had problems in that area in the past and had thought the fires were out. I never went back to see if they did anything.

It is a remote part of Centre County. The coal in that area is bituminous.

PostBy: Clinker On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 6:13 pm

Just wondering, If a fire (any type of fire) is burning underground how does it sustain itself with little or no oxygen???

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:24 pm

Clinker wrote:Just wondering, If a fire (any type of fire) is burning underground how does it sustain itself with little or no oxygen???

It's a mine fire, there's many avenues for the oxygen to get to it. As I mentioned before it's my understanding it's not the coal burning but the gas in the rock surrounding the coal. It's not a raging fire like yopu would have in the coal stove but a slow smoldering fire so I don't think that it consumes a lot of oxygen. I know a lot of people view this site that would probably know more perhaps someone could clue us in.
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Oo-v-oO On: Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:11 pm

Here's a video on Youtube shot from a small plane over Centralia:

Stove/Furnace Make: Ashley

PostBy: scarecrow On: Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:36 am

i use to go there alot four wheelin with my truck....it is amazing. you can describe it to people but it dosent fully sink in till you see it first hand....
Stove/Furnace Make: alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: kodiak

PostBy: dirvine96 On: Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:07 pm

My family is from Shamokin and they tell some of the mines there have been burning since the 40s. I think they said that part of the Glen Burn mine is still burning.

Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer 82FA

PostBy: coalstoves On: Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:42 pm

I live 4 miles away around here it isn't that big a deal anymore . There are coal company operations poised all around the town waiting for the last of the holdouts to leave . Thats one rich vein of some of the finest coal in world sitting there just waiting .
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman and Liberty
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum and Victory 700

PostBy: dirvine96 On: Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:27 pm

My grandfather alway said the best coal came from Shamokin. Most of my family lived up on Bear Valley Ave. I'm not sure what mines he and his bother worked in. I know they spent good part of the depression in the pokie for bootleging coal from closed mines. The town has changed alot.
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer 82FA

Re: Centralia, PA

PostBy: paddy On: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:07 pm

Yea the best coal was found in Coal Township the outer hills of Shamokin - Burnside, Bear Valley patch 1 & 2, Coal Run. Some bootleg mines especially out behind the Vo-Tech school. Remember F&S brewery?

I had school friends that lived in Centralia. I remember going there in the winter and certain areas not having snow on the ground. I remember playing baseball in Centralia teener league field. I remember starring out at the Cameron coal breaker where the gravity feed car hoppers full of coal would pull the empty cars up when I was bored in school.

Ah the black diamonds.


Friend of Molly.....

Re: Centralia, PA

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:34 pm

Stephen King made a short story based on there, can't remember the name at the moment.
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Centralia, PA

PostBy: dh4coal On: Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:33 am

I imagine if the fire was in the workings of a mine, like the one in Laurel Run, the workings would provide for air circulation to the fire. I guess the other fires that start at outcrops might provide their own air circulation with subsidences, fissures etc as the heat cracks the rock around it and the coal burns to ash and cant support the overburden anymore. My brother in law is a geologist and has taken field trips of geology students to Laurel Run and Centralia. He told me that the fire in Centralia will probably burn 200-300 years! Next time I talk to him, I'll see if he can enlighten me on the mechanics of an underground fire.
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: Bay Window