The mine fire was ignited in 1962 and eventually spread to the vast network of mines beneath homes and businesses, threatening residents with poisonous gases and dangerous sinkholes. By the end of the 1980s, more than 1,000 people had moved and 500 structures demolished under a $42 million federal relocation program.
But some holdouts refused to go, even after their houses were seized through eminent domain in the early 1990s. They said the fire posed little danger to their part of town, accused government officials and mining companies of a plot to grab the rights to billions of dollars worth of anthracite coal, and vowed to stay put.
After years of letting them be, state officials decided a few years ago to take possession of the homes. The homeowners fought back with a federal lawsuit.
[Resident Tom] Hynoski, who has long contended that government corruption involving the coal rights was behind the state's drive to force them out, claimed vindication. "They bent us, but they didn't break us," he said.Because coal mines that are burning under ground and too unsafe even to enter to try to put out the fire are actually worth billions of dollars! It all makes sense! The concern the state seemed to be showing for their residents was actually a gigantic scam!
Photo essay of Centralia as it is now here.