Under Ol’ Smokey

Many of you may be familiar with the creepy horror movie Silent Hill, which was based, in part, on the coal seam fire that burns near Centralia, Pennsylvania (USA). That fire has been burning for 53 years after it was accidentally started (though no one is completely sure how) sometime in May or June 1962. The town of Centralia was eventually abandoned, but the coal fire continues to burn on.

But 53 years is nothing compared to the Mount Wingen (which means “fire” in the local Aboriginal language) fire, also known as Burning Mountain, which has been burning for 6,000 years.

According to the local Wanaruah people, the mountain has been used for warmth, to cook, and make tools for a long time, despite the noxious gases caused by the burning coal. Surface temperatures reach 350° C even though the blaze is contained 30 metres below the surface.

No one knows how this fire was started, though the first Europeans, who came to the area in 1828, thought the heat was from a volcano. In reality, the blaze could have been started by anything from lightning, a forest fire, or the Aboriginal people themselves. But once started, coal seams fires are nearly impossible to put out. In fact, there are around 1,000 coal seam fires burning in the world today.

Further reading on Centralia, PA: https://www.facebook.com/TheEarthStory/posts/521109511283431
Further reading: https://www.facebook.com/TheEarthStory/posts/652924618101919
and
http://www.sciencealert.com/this-fire-in-australia-has-been…
Photo credit: http://www.australiantraveller.com/hunter-valley/069-make-like-moses-at-burning-mountain/

-Colter