Hell Fire Below Us

Could hell be right below our feet? Though afterlife is a mystery, one thing is certain, under the ground flames are burning.  You might not know it, but right now there could be a mine under your feet. Though unlikely to have a fiery one under your current location, the phenomenon happens quite frequently. Around the world, thousands are burning underground (Zhang).  Ohio has one that has been a ‘Ripley’s Believe it or not’ attraction and blazing for over one hundred years.

In 1884, union workers at the New Straitsville Mining Company –nearly 60 miles south of Columbus—were angered over their wages (Zikursh). Management planned to cut the pay for 70 cents to 60 cents per ton of coal extracted (Cramer). In upset, the workers went on strike. In doing so, they dowsed cars in oil, lit them ablaze, and sent them down the mines (Zikursh). What could go wrong? Well fast forward to present day and the fire is still burning.

When the fire began, it spread quickly but took several days to discover. The fire lead to the mine closing and efforts to rectify the problem have proven useless. In 1936, barriers were built across the burning veins of coal but did not work. Two years later, tunnels were dog through the path of the flames and filled with clay water to extinguish it, but again, it did not work. The fire’s affects spread to coal deposits in Hocking and Perry County destroying over two hundred square miles of the material, causing fifty million dollars in damage (Zikursh).

Since then, the affects are still on going. In 2003, smoke emerged from the solid in Wayne Nation Forest due to the fire still blazing; 119 years after it began (Zikursh). If you go to the site today, snow melts on the ground and holes open, spewing steam and smoke (Cramer).

So how can we fix the issue? Simple, we can’t. Like a wildfire, these burning furnaces below us take their own course. It is nearly impossible to put them out (Zhang).



Cramer, A. (n.d.). Historic Mine Fire Marker Dedicated. [online] Fs.usda.gov. Retrieved from:


Zhang, S. (2014). The World’s Oldest Underground Fire Has Been Burning For 6,000 Years.

Gizmodo.com. Retrieved from: https://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-oldest-underground-fire-has-been-burning-fo-1539049759.

Zikursh, C. (2011). New Straitsville Mine Fire. [online] Ohiohistoryhost.org. Retrieved

from: https://ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/archives/216.


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