Pennsylvania puts $1.4m towards extinguishing years-old mine fire

Fire deemed threat to air travel in state where abundance of abandoned mines make underground long-burning fires common

The Pennsylvania department of environmental protection announced this week it would spend $1.4m to put out a several-year-old fire near the Pittsburgh International Airport that now threatens to disrupt air travel and cause an explosion at a major gas pipeline.

A years-old fire may sound extraordinary, but underground long-burning fires are relatively common in the state, thanks to Pennsylvanias abundance of abandoned coal waste piles and closed underground mines. The coal in those piles and mines act as a readily ignitable fuel source, should a stray ember from a cigarette land or a lightning bolt strike in the right place.

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