Hellish Coal Fires Roast Underworld for a Century
Wherever there is coal, there will be fire. For centuries, we have dug up the combustible rock to power our industries, and we continue to rely on it to light our homes and keep the wired world humming. But each year millions of tons of coal are burned inadvertently, too – in underground fires that even now rage out of control all over the world.
Nowhere is this on more dramatic display than in Jharia, in India’s Jharkhand state, where underground fires have been burning for nearly a century. Dozens of fires are still active in the coal-rich region, exposing residents to a constant stream of air pollution that can include methane, sulphur and mercury. As the seams smolder away, the ground above them becomes prone to collapse – taking with them any houses, roads or other infrastructure built on the surface.