Perhaps the most terrifying spectacle is the unquenched fire itself: many blazes smoldered quietly in old underground tunnels until recently, when modern strip pits exposed them to air. The revitalized flames erupted, engulfing the region in a haze of soot, carbon monoxide and compounds of sulfur and nitrogen.
-from "Fire in the Hole," by Kevin Krajick
How messed up does a town have to be to have its Zip Code revoked? As messed up as Centralia, Pennsylvania. The town is cursed with an underground coal fire as old as I am (it was started in 1962), and could easily burn for another 250 years. This particular coal fire was caused by man, but nature has always been happy to start coal fires, as well. The perilous conditions chased off almost all the town's residents and it now qualifies as a ghost town.
Coal fires are a true global environmental catastrophe, with major problems existing in India and China. It's a significant contributor to atmospheric pollution. Land collapses, buildings disappear, toxic gases vent through dead tree stumps, sinkholes open to swallow unsuspecting pedestrians; it's a creepy little taste of hell.
One silver lining for Centralia: The Yuengling Brewery is not too far away along Route 61 in Pottsville.