Recently, a few readers have written to express their frustrations that the smoke from the Centralia mine fire is gone.
It’s important to note that what at first appears to be smoke actually isn’t smoke at all. Rather, it is steam produced from groundwater that’s been superheated by the fire under Centralia PA.
This doesn’t mean that the gases rising from the surface are harmless. To the contrary, the steam is often mixed with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The gases can also be quite hot too.
There was a time in the early to mid-1980s when the mine fire in Centralia Pennsylvania was quite active and extremely close to the surface. This led to large quantities of steam rising from the ground.
During those years, steam from the fire blanketed areas around the town, including the now abandoned section of Route 61. Before the road was closed, the fire-made steam could be so thick that it would become a hazard to drivers.
Today, the Centralia mine fire has shifted from its original location near Odd Fellows Cemetery. There are actually three, main burn zones: one near the western end of South Street, another to the west of old Route 61, and a final one to the east near Big Mine Run Road.
The easiest of these to explore is the area at the end of South Street. When looking for steam, it is best to visit on a cool day after it has just rained. This makes the late autumn and early spring ideal times to catch a glimpse of the steaming hills Centralia, PA is so famous for.
Based upon the reduction of visible steam in recent years, many people believe the mine fire is going out. While the evidence is inconclusive, it definitely seems that the nature of the fire is changing. Some have suggested it is going deeper underground and will emerge strong again one day.
Just remember that Centralia, Pennsylvania is a great place to visit, explore, and appreciate whether or not you see lots of steam.