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Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire


Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How a modern-day mine disaster has turned a Pennsylvania community into a ghost town




For much of its history, Centralia, Pennsylvania, had a population of around 2,000. By 1981, this had dwindled to just over 1,000—not unusual for a onetime mining town. But as of 2007, Centralia had the unwelcome distinction of being the states tiniest municipality, with a population of nine. The reason: an underground fire that began in 1962 has decimated the town with smoke and toxic gases, and has since made history.


Fire Underground is the completely updated classic account of the fire that has been raging under Centralia for decades. David DeKok tells the story of how the fire actually began and how government officials failed to take effective action. By 1981 the fire was spewing deadly gases into homes. A twelve-year-old boy dropped into a steaming hole as a congressman toured nearby. DeKok describes how the people of Centralia banded together to finally win relocation funds—and he reveals what has happened to the few remaining residents as the fiftieth anniversary of the fires beginning nears.

Book News Annotation:

In 1962, a fire began burning in a coal mine beneath the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Today, the town lies abandoned and the fire still burns. Using newly available archival materials, journalist DeKok tells the story of the bureaucratic battles that, in the fire's early years, saw one government agency after another fail to control or extinguish the fire. He shows how, amid government infighting over whether Centralia was really in any danger, the residents of the town had to fight to be relocated. Illustrated with 16 pages of photos, this compelling account of a human-caused disaster will interest many readers. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)


How a modern-day mine disaster turned a Pennsylvania community into a ghost town.

About the Author

David DeKok has been reporting on the Centralia mine fire for more than thirty years. While at the News-Item in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, from 1975 to 1987, he wrote more than 500 stories about Centralias plight. His first book on the subject, Unseen Danger, was published in 1986. 

Product Details

Dekok, David
Globe Pequot Press
DeKok, David
United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Disasters & Disaster Relief
Centralia (Pa.) History.
Mine fires - Pennsylvania - Centralia
World History-General
Edition Description:
Revised edition
Publication Date:
40 archival photos, 2 8-page color inser
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Engineering » Civil Engineering » Geology and Mining
History and Social Science » Americana » New England and Mid Atlantic
History and Social Science » Americana » Northeast
History and Social Science » Social Science » Disasters and Disaster Relief
History and Social Science » World History » General

Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire New Trade Paper
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Product details 288 pages Globe Pequot Press - English 9780762754274 Reviews:
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How a modern-day mine disaster turned a Pennsylvania community into a ghost town.
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