In this article we will be taking a look at the inspiration behind the plot for the French-Canadian (video game movie) Silent Hill, from 2006 – the Centralia coal mine fire…
Centralia originally popped up between routes 61 and 42 in 1866, founded by a miner named Alexander Rea. There was a huge amount of anthracite coal underneath the ground in the area, and the town soon grew prosperous through the mining work.
A population of around 1500 people eventually ended up making a decent living off the mines below the town. In the early 1900’s the town of Centralia reached a population boom of approximately 2800 residents.
Throughout the 40’s and 50’s the town developed into a popular community made up of good public services and neighbourhoods, most of which came about through money from the mines.
The day the town Centralia changed forever was on May the 25th, 1962.
The council were in a bit of a tiff over their Memorial Day celebrations – someone had created a illegal garbage dump in the town that would surely ruin the celebrations. They finally decided to burn the garbage to get rid of it.
The fire service took on the job and burned down the garbage professionally…but nobody realised that the flammable coal and coal dust beneath the town had caught on fire.
Over the next few days the huge amount of mining tunnels under the town provided the fire with new material to burn, and the flames started to seep out of the ground in Centralia.
Over the next few decades, the authorities tried in vain to stop the fires beneath the town. At one point they even attempted to flood the mine shafts…but that failed as well.
the people of Centralia had no option other than to coexist with the fire, but in 1969, certain families had to leave their homes, and their towns, due to the presence of toxic fumes.
On Valentine’s Day, 1981, a large fissure that once served as a mine shaft opened up under a 12-year old boy named Todd Domboski. He actually fell into the hole but managed to grab onto a nearby root of a tree.
Luckily his cousin, Eric Wolfgang, was nearby, and he managed to pull the young lad out of the hole unharmed.
The Ghost Town
Enough was enough – as well as the near-tragedy with Todd Domboski, there were also a few cases of people nearly dying from carcinogenic chemicals in the air.
Factions began to appear in the town – some people wanted to leave and wanted the government to fund their move, whilst others believed the government was behind the fires, and wanted to remain in the town.
In 1983, the government allocated $42 million for the Centralia Mine Fire Acquisition Relocation Project. This meant that everyone in the town could now leave safely with a fair price paid for their property.
Most had left the town by early 1991.
The homes and public buildings were levelled, but strangely, 58 people refused to leave their property, and their town. In 1992, Pennsylvania ordered the remaining people out and offered them the same buyout deal once again.
Eventually the state won in court and took legal possession of the remaining homes, but the residents fought back with a lawsuit that took 20 years to resolve.
The Centralia Coal Mine Fire
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