Why This Town Has Been On Fire For 50 Years

This week Reactions is shining light on why a small town in PA, Centralia, has been on fire for over 50 years. It’s because of science. Well, chemistry, technically.

In 1962, an underground fire started in the coal-mining town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Fifty-three years later, that fire still burns. In this week’s episode of Reactions, we explain the history and science behind the Centralia mine fire. Does anyone still live there? How could the fire keep burning for so long, and why hasn’t it been extinguished? From a chemical standpoint, what is fire, anyway?

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Photo credits:
David DeKok, Centralia Photo Archive (at 3:19)

Music credits:
Reole – I Got My Own
Sublustris Nox – Lost In the Woods

Elaine Seward

Sam Kean

Executive Producer:
Adam Dylewski

Scientific consultants:
Steven Maguire
Darcy Gentlemen, Ph.D.

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