Begin Main Content Area

Centralia Mine Fire Resources


The area encompassed by the Centralia Mine Fire is extremely dangerous.

Walking and/or driving in the immediate area could result in serious injury or death. There are dangerous gases present, and the ground is prone to sudden and unexpected collapse. DEP strongly discourages anyone from visiting the immediate area.

In 1811 a town known as Bull’s Head (later called Centreville) preceded the official incorporation of Centralia Borough. Coal was first mined in the Centralia area in 1842 and the Centralia Colliery was opened in 1862. In February 1866, Centralia Borough was incorporated.

The Centralia Mine Fire has been burning in the abandoned deep mine workings of the Buck Mountain Coal Bed since May 1962. The fire reportedly originated as an intentional controlled burning of residential trash in an abandoned strip pit (surface mine). The strip pit had been left open after being excavated around 1935 and was approximately 75 feet wide and 50 feet deep. It is believed that the lack of a properly constructed non-combustible shale barrier in the strip pit enabled the trash fire to spread to adjacent carbonaceous refuse material and then to nearby coal mine workings.