Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire
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Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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 s...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Globe Pequot (first published 2009)
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I should start this review by saying that this is among the most well-researched books I have ever read. This book is clearly the result of years of hard labor on the author's part. Unfortunately, that doesn't translate into a gripping read.

I am a huge fan of historical non-fiction, and while the topic of this book is interesting, it is not a book for someone who prefers his or her non-fiction to read like a thriller. I think this book is a required read for residents of Centralia and the surro...more
David Witte
Amazing story, very interesting read. I past my stop on the subway because I got caught up in the book. Went all the way to the end of the line before looking up.
DeKok, a journalist, has written for years about Centralia, PA and the mine fire that eventually led to a whole scale exodus from the small town. In this book, he covers in (sometimes excruciating detail) the beginnings of the fire in 1962, its spread over the years (it is still burning), and the immense number of politicians and local personalities who weighed in and tried to do something about it. I was stunned to learn that, in the days before Google, the PA Health Department actively hid inf...more
Having first heard of the Centralia Mine Fire while listening to Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods', I wanted to read more. This book is a new edition of the author's 1986 book 'Unseen Danger' and brings the story up to 2009. The style is very journalistic; I think it fits the material very well (after all, the author is a reporter). Even without a lot of embroidery, the book is over 250 pages long.

For anyone who has ever doubted the ineptness (and lack of common sense) among government bureauc...more
I found this book fascinating, if a bit dry, as others have said. I had read quite a bit online about the Centralia coal mine fire and its effect on the town's residents, and this book pulled it all together in a cohesive history.

I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could, because I wouldn't want to take off a whole star on the lack of maps and the quality of the photos. There is only one map, and you will definitley want more than that. Lots of pics and maps are available online, however.
Marta Scholl
You can tell that DeKok did his research on the Centralia mine fire and was immersed in the events taking place over the years (he was a journalist who covered the fire for the local newspaper). There are ALOT of names referred to in the book due to the political hand-off the town experience time and time again but DeKok adds personality to the individuals so you remember them when they get brought up later in the story. I wanted to read the book primarily to gain a better understanding of the t...more
Leslie Mojeiko
Fire Underground is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about the mine fire catastrophe in Centralia, PA. The book probably has more information than you ever wanted to know so I found myself skipping a few pages. David DeKok recounts stories from citizens who lived in Centralia during the time, provides photographs of the fire's destruction, and explains in detail the politics/logistics/funding of the relocation project. The latter part was what I could do without, but perha...more
I heard about this a while ago. I wanted to learn more. I had picked up another book on the subject, but never finished, because it didn't ever seem to really get started itself. This book has an amazing amount of detail. I would even say it has far too much detail for the casual observer. I think there was too much in the middle of this book. You can read the first few chapters but when it gets repetitive skip to chapter 25. The story moves much faster after that point. Mad props the the author...more
Dry, but urgent, account of the Centralia fire. This book, more bitterly than Joan Quigley's "The Day the Earth Caved In", illustrates how the unforgiveable failure of government -- poisoned by politics -- utterly abandoned the good people of Centralia who believed until the end that they would be helped. It is a breathtaking and heartbreaking account of how politicians, on both sides of the aisle, concern themselves mainly with passing the buck and blaming others rather than with serving their...more
Fascinating book... probably the most in-depth look at Centralia that exists. The amount of research DeKok did is impressive, and he manages to make all the council meetings and bureaucracy actually interesting to read about. It was a bit of a slog to get through the book only because there was so much to read, but it kept me intrigued all the way through.
This was a fascinating book about an environmental disaster that so negatively impacted the lives of so many. I just wish it were written a bit more chronologically and less in packets based on topics--I sometimes lost track of some of the main players. I also wish there had been a bit more on the long-term environmental impact of the fie--but good read.
Diane Bluegreen
there is an incredible amount of scholarship and reporting in this book. lots and lots of details. i was interested in the subject,so i enjoyed it and i am one who likes details. this book isn't for everybody,but it's a good account of a very intriguing subject...mine fires,some of which,including the one in centralia,are still burning.
Glenn Koehler
Good read, infuriating to think of all the bureaucratic bull these people had to go through and endure. A little confusing due to tons of names and facts but provides an important history on an interesting spot to visit in Pennsylvania Americana.
after seeing all the yahoo stories about this town, i had to get this book....even after reading the first 10 chapters or so, i can see how the people of centralia don't trust the government....
The fascinating and devastating story of a Pennsylvania mining town being wiped off the face of the earth.
Very well-written and engaging book about this epic tragedy and all of the missed opportunities to avoid it.
A must-read.
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Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege, and Public Health The Girl Who Was Killed in the Library: Betsy Aardsma, Penn State University, and the Murderer Who Got Away Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire

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