I just finished reading Bill Bryson's book "A Walk In the Woods" and it's become one of my all time favorites! it's about this novice hiker that takes off to hike the AT and his experiences and thoughts on America while on this hike.
while on his hike he comes across a town called Centralia PA. Here's a quick history taken from http://www.offroaders.com/album/centralia/the-story.htm
"Centralia - Columbia County, Pennsylvania - The fire was started in a garbage dump over an open coal seam in May of 1962. The fire was reported and seemed to be quenched at the time, but actually continued underground. There are many additional versions of the original cause but the garbage pit and the date are probably right. First bid to extinguish the fire was $175.
In July of 1962, the Department of Environmental Resources started to monitor the fire. Boreholes were drilled to check to extent and the temperature of the fire. Some thought they also provided an natural draft which helped combustion. Gas monitors were also installed in most homes in the area above the hottest fire (the impact area)."
and for the MTV generation here's the YOUTUBE to go with it!
Please run out to your borders, BOOKS A MILLION (hi rober!), local library and pick up this book. it's the perfect summer read. can't recommend it more highly.