Centralia: the U.S. town that has been burning since 1962

Some people refuse to leave the site even though it is extremely dangerous.
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Calle de Centralia que arde en llamas

Centralia is a town located in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, famous for being a “ghost town” where only 5 people live (yes, you read that right, only 5 people). The reason is due to a voracious fire that to date has not been extinguished and that, according to some experts, has not been able to be extinguished, will remain active for at least the next 240 years. This, although it may seem like fiction, is not fiction at all.

What happened in Centralia?

A fire in 1962 rendered the city uninhabitable, leaving only a few structures standing. However, things in this town were not always like this, because before the incident it had a promising future in the mining industry. mining industry thanks to its subway anthracite coal mine.

Centralia had schools, banks, businesses, recreation sites, a cemetery and a garbage dump. garbage dump which was occasionally set on fire to mitigate the bad odors it emanated, since it was right next to the cemetery, a place that many people would soon visit for Memorial Day.

That year the fire spread to the coal mine seams and despite numerous attempts to extinguish it, the fire continued to burn.

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Over the years, the subway fire caused toxic gases and extreme heat to emerge to the surface, affecting people’s health and making life in the city too dangerous, especially because of the carbon monoxide produced. In addition, the ground began to crack and collapse in several places, causing many houses and buildings to become unsafe.

In fact, the journalist David De Kok tells in his book Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Firethat in 1981, a boy named Todd Domboski, then 12 years old, almost lost his life when he was killed when he the ground opened up beneath himcreating a crack several meters deep.

Some residents evacuated, others did not.

In the 1980s, the U.S. government implemented a $42 million program to evacuate and relocate most of the residents. In 1992, the state acquired all remaining properties and the city was officially condemned. Although most of the residents moved out, some people refused to leave and still live there.

One of the few remaining houses in Centralia
One of the few remaining undemolished houses in Centralia. Source: shutterstock

Today, Centralia is almost a ghost town. Many of its streets are closed and most of the buildings have been demolished. The subway fire continues to burn and it is estimated that it could continue to do so for hundreds of years to come.

Centralia’s history has been visited by numerous tourists and has been the inspiration for works of fiction, including the video game and movie “Silent Hill”.

Woman walking in the streets of Centralia
Tourist walking along Centralia’s graffiti highway. Source: shutterstock
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Most of the buildings in Centralia have been demolished. Source: History Latinoamerica

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Photos: shutterstock

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