For much of its history, Centralia, Pennsylvania, had a population of around 2,000. By 1981, this had dwindled to just over 1,000—not unusual for a onetime mining town. But as of 2007, Centralia had the unwelcome distinction of being the state's tiniest municipality, with a population of nine. The reason: an underground fire that began in 1962 has decimated the town with smoke and toxic gases, and has since made history.
Fire Underground is the completely updated classic account of the fire that has been raging under Centralia for decades. David DeKok tells the story of how the fire actually began and how government officials failed to take effective action. By 1981 the fire was spewing deadly gases into homes. A twelve-year-old boy dropped into a steaming hole as a congressman toured nearby. DeKok describes how the people of Centralia banded together to finally win relocation funds—and he reveals what has happened to the few remaining residents as the fiftieth anniversary of the fire's beginning nears.
David DeKok has been reporting on the Centralia mine fire for more than thirty years. While at the News-Item in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, from 1975 to 1987, he wrote more than 500 stories about Centralia’s plight. His first book on the subject, Unseen Danger, was published in 1986.
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)