How hot is the temperature of the Centralia mine fire? Hot.
According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), over the years there have been numerous borehole temperature readings in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest temperature ever recorded at the Centralia PA mine fire was 1350 degrees Fahrenheit. That is enough to melt many types of glass!
These extreme temperatures are typically only found underground in the furthest depths of the coal seam fire. Most surface temperatures are cooler. Though, they are still dangerously hot to the touch. Within Centralia’s burn zone, steaming rocks and ground can easily measure 200 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
The hottest surface temperature in the town was recorded in February of 1981. At that time, the fire was moving along several fronts. One of these was heading east towards Big Mine Run Road, and it had broken through a rocky cliff.
Rocks along the cliff glowed red and steam was venting there too. When the temperature was measured by the Bureau of Mines, the thermometer read over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit! With temperatures like these, it is no wonder that the mine fire burn zone in Centralia, Pennsylvania is littered with dead trees.
Hot temperatures directly impacted the town’s residents as well. In 1979 gas station owner John Coddington discovered that the fire had warmed his basement floor to 136 degrees Fahrenheit. Worst of all, it had also begun to heat station’s underground gasoline tanks! This fire hazard prompted authorities to close the gas station indefinitely.
The mine fire in Centralia PA is able to burn so hot because it is fueled by seams of anthracite coal. Anthracite coal requires a higher temperature to burn. Once it starts it can burn very hot and is exceptionally difficult to extinguish.
Unfortunately, unless a mammoth effort is made to dig out the fire, Centralia’s deep coal mines will continue to burn until all of the fuel is exhausted.