Sumana sez, "Keith Allison visited Centralia, Pennsylvania, a mostly-evacuated town whose coal mine caught on fire in 1962. He took pictures and tells the tale."
Fire Down Below: Centralia (Thanks, Sumana!)
There was no mining to be done after that, though there was plenty of fire fighting going on. The mines were flushed with water. Chunks of flaming coal were excavated. Shafts were backfilled and redrilled, but the fire refused to be tamed. In 1983, as the fire continued to spread, an engineering study was released that stated the fire could very well be burning for another hundred years or more and consume an underground area of roughly 3,700 acres. This spelled pretty dire news for the town of Centralia. Living on top of a raging mine fire was generally considered to be bad for the locals. Smoke, steam, and toxic fumes crept up through the soil. Water became contaminated. Trees died in droves and sat in barren patches of blackened, smoking soil that made the whole town look like it ought to be criss-crossed with trenches full of German and British troops locked in a Western Front stalemate. And then the sinkholes and fissures began opening. One nearly swallowed a young boy whole, and people started thinking that maybe Centralia was a lost cause.