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Inside ghost town where underground fire has burned for decades causing residents to leave

Inside ghost town where underground fire has burned for decades causing residents to leave

Sixty years ago on the east coast of the USA, a town set fire and never stopped

Across the pond in Centralia, Pennsylvania, there is a fire that never goes out.

On the east coast of the USA, a blaze started in 1962 in the prosperous mining town of Centralia.

And unfortunately, once this fire started in a nearby landfill, it quickly spread to the coal mines below the surface of the town.

While such a fire would normally be put out with some effort, it’s understandably much tougher to put a stop to a blaze with an endless supply of fuel.

Continuous efforts were made to put the fire out, but every attempt failed, which ultimately led to residents having to abandon their beloved homes. And 60 years later, the town is still ablaze.

Centralia road cracks.
Flickr/Peter & Laila/

For the first 20 years following the fire's outbreak, residents continued to live in the town. But it wasn’t until 15-year-old Todd Domboski fell in a sinkhole that residents began to realise the true dangers of living above a perpetual fire. Perhaps a bit of a delayed reaction, but then again, it's tough to just up sticks and leave your home unexpectedly.

Although Domboski survived the fall, as his cousin rescued him from the 150-foot drop, it made residents reconsider their living situation.

And in 1983, the state intervened and forced the majority of residents to relocate, while also flattening various homes in the town.

These days, while most of the previous inhabitants live elsewhere, five residents still remain. A stark contrast to the 2,761 people who lived there back in 1890, when the town was at its peak.

Abandoned swing set in Centralia.
Flickr/Peter & Laila/

The town’s ongoing fire is the source of continuous carbon monoxide leaks, a substance that’s poisonous to humans, which makes the remaining residents’ decision to stay there all the more surprising.

But as it happens, back in 2013 these residents won a legal battle with local authorities to stay in Centralia after they had attempted to move them.

For years, the almost-ghost-town faced challenges with tourists who would visit the town and cover different spaces in graffiti, as it seems the town's eerie nature is an ideal canvas to graffiti artists.

But as of 2022, the town is no longer connected to local traffic, meaning Centralia is well and truly on its way to acquiring ghost-town status.

The population of Centralia is believed to be less than 20. (

Unfortunately for the five remaining residents, it doesn’t seem like the blazing fires beneath them are going to extinguish anytime soon. The state said its fires could continue for another century. Meanwhile, others predict it could last even longer than that.

So, in the meantime for the remaining residents, they’ll just have to continue to watch their step.

Featured Image Credit: Flickr.

Topics: News, US News