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Mine Fire History
Visiting Centralia
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Satellite, Aerial Photos
360 Virtual Tours
Downtown Panoramic
Centralia Multimedia
Scientific Study
Memories of Centralia


Panoramic Virtual Tours:

Mine Fire Hot Spot
Downtown Centralia Mainstreet Centralia Damaged Hillside

 
 
   
Knoebels Amusement Park (only 15 miles from Centralia!) 
Ghost Towns
Area 51 - Groom Lake
Abandoned PA Turnpike
Defunct Amusement Parks
Abandoned Places

  

Photo Updates:


Centralia in HDR

July 2006 360? Virtual Tour of Downtown Centralia PA

Centralia's Neighbor:
Byrnesville, Pa

Zeisloft's Mobil
Gas Station

July 5th 2008
Centralia PA

Centralia PA 2008
January Photos and 
commentary by
Donald Davis


2006 Photos


2005 Photos
of Centralia


 

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2004 Photos
of Centralia


2003 photos

of Centralia

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2002 photos

of Centralia

360 Degree Virtual Tours of Centralia PA
 

Fire In The Hole
by Kristie Betts
A fictional story based on Centralia
 

The Little
Town That Was

by Donald Hollinger

 

RESIDENTS TO SAVE THE BOROUGH OF CENTRALIA - FACT SHEET #6 - MARCH 1984 - This "Fact Sheet" was transcribed from a photocopied, original March 1984 newsletter from a Centralia organization called "Residents To Save The Borough Of Centralia".  Read the News Letter here


130th Anniversary
of the 1877 Shamokin Uprising and the Great Railroad Strike .. Read More

 

Centralia Today
A Photo Documentary
of Centralia today.

 

Mine Emergency Response Program
Details from the
Saskatchewan
Mine Rescue Manual
 

 

 

Centralia Pennsylvania
  
Centralia's Mine Fire History

Smoke rises out of the ground, the smell of sulfur is heavy in the air, the ground collapses as homes are destroyed. Science fiction? Think again.

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Centralia - Columbia County, Pennsylvania
  
Many stories have surfaced as to what happened in the summer of 1962.  Of the many versions of the original cause of the Centralia Mine Fire probably the most accurate cause of the fire was an account that the fire started in a garbage dump over an open coal seam in May of 1962. 

The fire was reported and doused by the local fire company and despite the fire, Centralia council had continued to allow dumping in the pit.

It seemed to be quenched at the time, but then re-erupted several times. Then it was discovered to the horror of the town that the fire actually had continued underground, through an opening into the coal mines that cris-crossed under the streets of Centralia PA.

  
  
Soon after the fire was reported to have moved under ground, the first bid to extinguish the fire was $175.  It might have ended there.  ...but it didn't.
 

 



  

 

In July of 1962, the Department of Environmental Resources started to monitor the fire.  Boreholes were drilled to check to extent and the temperature of the fire.  Some thought they also provided an natural draft which helped combustion. Gas monitors were also installed in most homes in the area above the hottest fire (the impact area).

sink-hole.jpg (4356 bytes)On May 22, 1969 the first three families were moved from Centralia.   A trench was dug north of the Odd Fellows Cemetery where fly ash and clay seals were used in am attempt to put out the fire.  According to Tony Gaughan (quoted in "Slow Burn"), if the trench had been dug in three shifts per day instead of one and if they had worked through the Labor Day holiday, the fire would have been contained.   He said the project was $50,000 short of completion.

Centralia Pennsylvania - 1962

 
In 1980, the U.S. Bureau of Mines "Red Book" said, "The Centralia mine fire has not been extinguished and has not been controlled."  In the year twenty-seven more families were moved at a price that was comparatively less than later buy-outs.

On February 14, 1981, the ground collapsed under Todd Domboski.  A hole about 4 feet in diameter and roughly 150 feet deep had opened under him.  He clung to exposed tree roots and was pulled to safety by his cousin.  The heat or the carbon monoxide in the breach would have been sufficient to kill him instantly if he had gone just a little deeper. This incident provoked the first national media attention.

cent-today.jpg (32728 bytes)By 1983, the government said the fire was advancing on three or four fronts.  Proposed trenching of the area might cost as much as $660 million with no guarantee of success.  One of the larger trenches would have bisected the town roughly from east to west.  A government buy-out was proposed instead of the trenching and there was a referendum held.  The homeowners voted to accept the buy-out 345 to 200.  Only those whose names were on the deeds could vote.  From 1962 to 1984, $7 million had been spent.  In November of 1983, $42 million was voted for the buy-out.

 

Dscf0048.jpg (82468 bytes)In 1983, there was fire under about 350 surface acres.  By 1991, this area had been increased by about three-quarters.  Worst case scenario would be about 3700 acres and possibly a hundred years.  Finally 26 homes along Route 61 west of town were bought in April of 1991.  There were no further plans to fight the fire.   The population of Centralia as of 4/18/97 was 44 people and has dwindled since.   There are just a few scattered homes today remaining in the town along with the borough hall.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns the remaining homes.  The monetary value of each property is in escrow or tied up in the legal system.  Until the remaining people move, the future of this town is unknown.  The State is being very lenient at this time.  The State owns the homes but the remaining people are still paying the property taxes on the houses.
   

What Centralia look like a few short decades ago?
Look at a set of comparison pictures from then and now.

Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire
by David DeKok

To Read a segment from the book, follow this link.

For more information and how to find this book, Click Here
  


  

Centralia Video Tour
Centralia PA tour of what is left of the town
in Infrared video
by Donald Davis

 

 
Centralia PA inspired the making of the movie Silent Hill  Read More Here...
    
Ghost Towns
Visit Ghost Towns across America
Abandoned PA Turnpike
Did you know Pennsylvania
has an abandoned Turnpike?
Defunct Amusement Parks
Amusement Parks of Yesterday
Abandoned Places
Abandoned Locations from all over
 
Area 51 - Groom Lake
The Top-secret military base.
Underground flames erase a community
  
Ghost Towns
Abandoned PA Turnpike
  
Defunct Amusement Parks
Abandoned Places
  
Knoebels Amusement Park

 

 

 
  Mine Fire History Mine Fire History Historical Photos
  Pictures From Today Mine Fire Chronology Visiting Centralia
  Centralia Then & Now 360? Virtual Tours Scientific Study
  Satellite, Aerial Photos Downtown Panoramic Centralia Books

  

Other Interesting Things

 

 


 

So you want to Visit Centralia PA?  What you should know before you go to Centralia PA.

 


 

What's near Centralia?

Plan your visit around one of Pennsylvania's best kept secrets located only 15 miles up the road from Centralia...


Knoebels
Amusement Park

Click Below for
 more details...

Knoebels
Amusement Park

 


Silent Hill & Centralia
Centralia PA inspires screenwriter Roger Avary during the making of the movie Silent Hill.
Read More Here...

 

Remembering ...
Byrnesville PA
By Mike Reilley

 
  Books about Centralia
  Maps of Centralia
  Around Town Today
  Local Attractions
 
  Personal Notes
  Additional Reading
  Haunted Centralia?
 
  Gerry McWilliams and
  the album "Centralia"
  
  Silent Hill Inspiration
  Other Mine Fires
  Search Centralia
  Centralia Sites/Books
  
Panoramic Virtual Tours:
Mine Fire Hot Spot
Downtown Centralia Mainstreet Centralia Damaged Hillside
  
 
  Centralia Infrared


Centralia PA in B&W Infrared
Infrared Photography
by Donald Davis

Video Tour
in Infrared of
Centralia PA
by Donald Davis

  

The Little Town That Was
by Donald Hollinger
 
  
Made in U.S.A. - 1987 movie that was filmed on location in Centralia PA See the opening Scene that started in Centralia during the peek of the mine fire disaster

 
 

 

Is Centralia Haunted?
Explore the possibility

  

  

  

Is there Hope
for Centralia?

Maybe...

Through the use of Nitrogen-Enhanced foam the Pinnacle mine fire was extinguished by Cummins Industries, Inc.  Cummins proposes to tackle the Centralia Mine fire and bring an end to the 
40 plus year fire.

Read this White Paper which evaluates the effectiveness of remotely applied nitrogen-enhanced foam to aid in efforts to isolate and suppress a mine fire.