Coal fires can occur naturally and are not a new phenomenon. Australia's Burning Mountain has smoldered for thousands of years. An underground coal fire in Centralia, Pa. , began in 1962, eventually opening sinkholes that threatened to gobble and incinerate pets and children. Centralia became a ghost town, and experts say that the fire there may burn for a century or more.
At the Rujigou coalfield in the Ningxia Autonomous Region of western China , fires have burned since the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Legend has it that coal miners who were angry over not being paid started a coal fire more than a century ago.
"It was industrial revenge," Guan said.
Wow. I am really glad we dind't get a lot of that here in the States. I could see the alt-history book with title: Kentucky Burning.