Praise for the author’s previous book, Fire Underground
“Enough bureaucratic villains to fill a Dickens novel.”
—New York Times Book Review
“DeKok has not only reported and written a compelling first-hand account of how an underground fire destroyed Centralia, but he even gives us an anatomy of how the disaster happened and analyzes its implications for one community, and in a sense for all of us. A thoughtful and thoroughly engrossing read!”
—Lisa Scottoline, author of Dirty Blonde, a fictional story about Centralia
"An excellent, unbiased chronicle devoid of the emotionalism which set resident upon resident."
—Library Journal (for the book as previously titled, Unseen Danger)
History buffs, locals, fans of true-life disaster stories
From the Back Cover
Centralia, Pennsylvania, lived and died by anthracite coal. The town’s population peaked at 2,761 in 1890, but by 1981 had dwindled to just over 1,000—not unusual for a Pennsylvania mining town. But today Centralia has no more than a dozen inhabitants, and they are expected to be gone before long. The reason: an underground fire that has burned since 1962 in the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia, making parts of the town uninhabitable.
By 1981 the fire was sending deadly gases into homes, making children sick, and one day a twelve-year-old boy dropped into a steaming hole and almost died as a U.S. congressman toured nearby. David DeKok describes how the fire began and how the majority of Centralia residents fought for and finally obtained relocation from the town, even as some of their neighbors claimed there was no threat. He reveals what happened to the few remaining diehards as the fiftieth anniversary of the fire’s beginning nears.