How much of the coal beneath Centralia Borough, Pennsylvania, did the mine fire burn?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A report processed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection titled "The Centralia Mine Fire: Frequently Asked Questions/Answers"  informs us that the fire in Pennsylvania's Centralia Borough was first started May 27, 1962, just before Memorial Day. It is not known for sure exactly how the fire was started, but there are a few different theories. One theory is that the fire was started in the town's landfill in an effort to "reduce odors in preparation for those visiting the town's cemetery on Memorial Day. Based on that theory, the town's fire department intentionally started the fire (The Huffington Post, Rubinkam, "Centralia, Pennsylvania Fire Still Burns Underneath Town, 50 years On"). However, the fire spread to the coal beds. Others theorize an explosion in the 1930s started the fire or even vandalists.

The report further indicates that the amount of coal that has been burned by the fire has not been estimated. We know for sure that coal in the Buck Mountain coal bed is burning, as well as possibly coals beds that overlap with the Buck Mountain coal beds, such as those of Buck Mountain Leader, Seven-Foot, and Skidmore. 

kspcr111 | Student

For over 50 years in the Buck Mountain coal bed,the mine fire has been burning the remaining coal beneath Centralia Borough  and possibly several other overlying coal beds in Buck Mountain Leader, Seven-Foot and Skidmore. But the exact amount of coal lost to the fire has not been determined and is difficult value it accurately .

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