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  • Did you know there's a fire in Australia that's been burning for thousands of years?

  • It sounds like a horror film but it's real.

  • Hey guys Julia here for DNews

  • If you've ever played Silent Hill you know how eerie that town is.

  • A few streets are all the remains from a once booming town.

  • No people.

  • Just emptiness.

  • And toxic smoke.

  • What if I told you that town is REAL.

  • Well in way.

  • The town Centralia Pennsylvania once boasted a booming population of over 1200 people.

  • Now empty lots and cracked pavement sit on top of a giant burning pit of fire.

  • Seriously.

  • A fire has been burning underground since May of 1962.

  • It all started when a bit of garbage in a nearby landfill started smoldering.

  • Since the landfill was built on top of an old coal mine, it was only a matter of time

  • before the fire reached the coal.

  • Some 50 odd years later and numerous attempts to put it out, the fire now stretches nearly

  • 400 acres.

  • It smolders just below the surface, occasionally releasing toxic gases into the air, such as

  • carbon monoxide.

  • In fact it's those gases that caused people to leave the town.

  • Some residents started passing out in their basements and soon town officials couldn't

  • deny it anymore, the area wasn't safe.

  • So most residents left and the town is declaredcondemned”.

  • Now tourists and fans of Silent Hill flock to the town to check out the sights.

  • Or smells.

  • Our AP Julia was one of those tourists back in 2009.

  • She described it aslike hell on earth”.

  • While Centralia certainly is the most famous, it's not the largest or the oldest underground

  • fire.

  • Coal fires can occur naturally too, from lightning strikes or even from spontaneous combustion.

  • Yeah.

  • Coal can spontaneously burn, it's just it's natural reaction when it interacts with oxygen.

  • Even at temperatures as low as 104 degrees.

  • Whatever sets the the spark, it doesn't take long for a seam to catch fire.

  • And even though it might be underground, oxygen rich air reaches the coal in the small spaces

  • between rocks and soil fanning the flames.

  • And then burns for centuries.

  • Here in the states, the oldest coal fire lies outside of the smalltown of Glenwood Springs

  • Colorado.

  • The South Cañon Number 1 Coal Mine fire has been burning since 1910 maybe even since 1899.

  • But it's by no means a novelty in the area.

  • The surrounding mountains are littered with underground coal fires.

  • It's so common place, there's a park calledBurning Mountainand nearby towns even

  • host a “burning mountain festival”.

  • But even those aren't the most dangerous.

  • That honor goes to an underground fire outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

  • Well it's more of smolder.

  • This heat doesn't have any actual flames yet.

  • According to a St. Louis Country report, it's called a “sub-surface smoldering event”.

  • It only started in 2010, but already it's putting thousands of residents at risk.

  • Only 1200 feet away lies an old nuclear waste site!

  • So if the smolder reaches the waste, well it's not good.

  • Most residents were unaware such a danger lurked in their neighborhood till a little

  • pamphlet showed up at their door likehey guyshere's the emergency evacuation

  • plan just in case this really bad thing happened or as they call it a “"catastrophic event".

  • Basically it won't goboombut it could create and release large amounts of

  • radioactive fallout into nearby areas.

  • But officials claim the landfillis safe and intensively monitored."

  • The only thing at risk from the fire is your nose.

  • Apparently it smells horrible.

  • Those are just a few of the fires in the US, there's dozens of fires in India and China.

  • It's a surprisingly common problem.

  • A fire burning throughout a coal seam in China spreads for thousands of miles.

  • Or a fire in Jharia, India is reportedly 100 years old.

  • It started in 1916 and rages to this day.

  • But even that might not be the oldest one.

  • In Germany Brennender Berg, or burning mountain caught fire in 1688.

  • The oldest one might be in Australia also called

  • Burning Mountainokay wow these names are super originaland some estimates say this

  • fire hasn't gone out in 5,500 years!

  • There's literally hundreds of thousands of these coal seam fires burning all over

  • the world right this very minute.

  • But if you're wondering yeah, there is an environmental cost.

  • All these fires send millions of tons of CO2, a greenhouse gas, pouring into our atmosphere.

  • But the problem with all these fireswell there's a reason many have been burning

  • for so long.

  • They're notoriously hard to put out.

  • Some experts think the only solution is a backhoe, digging them out.

  • But others worry exposing the fires to air might make them worse.

  • In Centralia they spent over 5 million dollars trying to find a solution of smothering it

  • with concrete and soil.

  • So sometimes it's just cheaper and easier to let it burn.

  • According to experts, Centralia could burn for another 250 years.

  • Hey Guys, if you like the shirt i have on and want to check out other DNews shirts be

  • sure to go to forhumanpeoples.com/collections/dnews.

  • We have a ton of cool science shirts for your buying pleasure.

  • AND if you're a first time buyer use the promo code DNEWS for 10% off at checkout.

  • So there's loads of fires underground, but there's also water down there… a lot of

  • it.

  • Dr. Carin Bondar explains in this video how researchers discovered a whole ocean of water

  • near the core of the earth!

Did you know there's a fire in Australia that's been burning for thousands of years?

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B1 US coal fire burning underground town dnews

How A Fire Can Burn Underground for Thousands of Years

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/17
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