February 6, 2010
Ode to Centralia, Pennsylvania
The Associated Press ran an interesting story yesterday about the final days of Centralia, Pennsylvania, which has rested for decades above an intense, underground coal fire. The federal government condemned the town in the 1980s and 1990s, but a hand few of holdouts have remained. The state government now appears to be getting serious about removing them. This story presents a lot of interesting property aspects -- from environmental concerns to eminent domain policy to the relationship between property, place and personal identity. Interested readers can find a number of resources on Centralia here, although I can't vouch for any of them personally.
P.S. Thanks to Stetson Law student Emily Pabalan for bringing the story to my attention.
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What a lot of people don't understand and neither did I until I went to Centralia myself. The whole town is NOT on fire. The fire burns on a hillside by the cemetery. The fire cannot come into the town because there is no coal there. The houses that were affected by the fire were those close to the hill. John Lokitis' grandfather told him the fire would never come down the hill into the town and for 48 years it hasn't left the hill. On an 1882 mine map I have it shows the extent of the Buck Mt. vein on which the fire burns. It is exactly where it is now. It can't burn any farther, it has no coal to burn.
Posted by: Carolyn Martienssen | Feb 23, 2010 7:00:09 PM