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 Post subject: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:38 am 
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state


By Brendan Gibbons (Staff Writer)

Published: January 24, 2014


CARBONDALE - On cold, clear winter days, the underground fire burning near Russell Park is easy to see.

Smoke and steam shoot through fissures in the rocks, smelling of sulphur. Moss thrives in the cracks, warmed by the gases.

Smoldering since 1995, this fire is one of eight active coal fires in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties on record with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

A ninth fire could eventually make the list. This week, a DEP-contracted crew began work to stop a culm dump fire that has been burning for least a month off of Jefferson Street in Fell Township.

These fires spew pollutants nonstop. According to U.S. Geological Survey research geologist Allan Kolker, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particles and toxic trace elements such as arsenic, mercury and selenium, are all byproducts of coal fires.

"Despite this combination of potential health hazards, few studies have concentrated on the immediate health impacts of coal fires," Kolker wrote in a 2009 USGS fact sheet.

Burning trash, probably tires, most likely caused the Fell Township fire, Grattan Singer Hose Co. No. 1 Fire Chief Joe Unis said. Jim Carey, a site foreman with Minichi Inc., the company working on putting out the fire, said they want to stop it before it reaches a nearby coal seam.

If that happens, it could burn for decades. Robert Hughes, director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, said the severity of a mine fire depends how much fuel is available.

"If there's still a lot of coal in that seam, it can get out of control and burn for a while," Hughes said.

It's hard to know for sure what started the eight fires in the coal-rich, crescent-shaped valley that stretches from Forest City to south of Nanticoke. The DEP does not investigate the causes of coal fires, spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said. It's also hard to determine when many of these fires started. The DEP's current records of these fires begin in the 1980s.

Each fire comes with a DEP-given name and ranking, based on how close it is to homes or occupied structures. "Moderate" fires burn more than 1,000 feet from a structure, while "serious" fires are between 500 and 1,000 feet away.

Summit Gardens, in Carbondale (Lackawanna County). Moderate.

Powderly Creek Northeast, in Carbondale (Lackawanna County). Moderate.

Dolph, in Olyphant (Lackawanna County). Moderate.

Sturdevant - Metcalf, in Laurel Run. Serious.

Mordecai, in Laurel Run. Serious.

Warrior Gap, Warrior Run. Moderate.

Hanover Reservoir, Hanover Township. Moderate.

Ball Field East, Newport Township. Serious.

Extinguishing these fires would cost $1 million to $2 million on the low end, ranging up to more than $20 million for the fires at Laurel Run, the documents state.

In the DEP records, an image emerges of who uses abandoned mine lands and for what purposes. The records also capture residents' concerns, at least those they reported to federal and state officials.

"A multi-seam mine fire exists throughout the entire area," reads a report of a visit to the Sturdevant-Metcalf fire in 1987. "A pit is venting noxious fumes and gases from the mine fires. The pit is also used as an illegal dump site."

One DEP staff member made a report of a visit to the Powderly site in 1994: "Portions of security fence around project site have been stolen. Truck and 4-wheeler trails throughout property. Campfires, beer cans, spent ammunition and trash show frequent visitation."

Though the DEP does not investigate the fires' origins, journalists and amateur historians have pieced together accounts of some of the fires. The Dolph fire in Olyphant started in 2004 when someone set an abandoned car on fire, according one borough official,

Chris Murley, founder of Undergroundminers.com, has researched these sites for years and posted accounts on Undergroundminers.com.

According to the website, the Russell Park fire burns where the Powderly Colliery once stood. In 1995, people burning trash caught a coal seam on fire. This is likely the fire that burns today. The site is surrounded by a trench dug by the federal Office of Surface Mining to isolate an earlier fire on nearby coal seams. Connolly said the DEP is planning to advertise project bids to deal with the fire again.

Murley and his friends were able to trace the Laurel Run fires back to 1915, when a miner left his lamp on a shoring timber. The timber caught fire, then the coal vein.

Though multiple attempts were made to extinguish it, more than 160 homes were demolished and the residents moved in 1965.

bgibbons@timesshamrock.com, @bgibbonsTT

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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:33 am 
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Location: nanticoke
I live in Nanticoke, I knew about the hanover mine fire but does anyone know about the Newport ball field one it the one in warrior run?


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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:17 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
this is the one in warrior run. when I put it up on the website years ago I called it the Nanticoke mine fire but its in fact in warrior run. guess I should change that. not sure about the ball field one, or the other one in Carbondale.

http://undergroundminers.com/nanticokefire2.html

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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:53 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:17 pm
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Location: Dickson City, Pa
I can smell the sulfur at the state prison. It's not the power plant because that bad boy is always burning.

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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:53 pm
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Location: Ringgold GA
csefcik wrote:
I can smell the sulfur at the state prison. It's not the power plant because that bad boy is always burning.

It's cool that they give you internet access while in prison. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:53 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 203
Location: Dickson City, Pa
edit

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Last edited by csefcik on Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Eight local coal fires still burning, DEP records state
PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:53 pm
Posts: 270
Location: Ringgold GA
I apologize if I offended you, I meant nothing by it. However there is no need to resort to swearing to get your point across.

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