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Coal Mine Fires and Burning Refuse

Caveat: Coal mine fires or underground mine fires are generic terms for coal seam fires.  The reason the “mine” is used within the description is due to the starting point of the fire.  The majority of coal seam fires start within active or abandoned coal mines.  It is important to note that the mine itself is not on fire, but the remaining coal pillars, remaining coal seam, poor quality coal, or burnable debris left behind is what burns.

Mine Fires: Majority of mine fires start through careless human activity, such as burning debris within an abandoned surface mine; however, mine fires can also start naturally via forest fires, lightning strikes, lava flows or other natural heat sources.

Underground coal mine fires occur around the world, sending thousands of tons of soot, toxic vapors, and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to pollution of surface and groundwater, mine subsidence as the coal is consumed, and ignition of forest and structural fires. Areas like the resort town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado has been plagued by series of suspected mine fire caused forest fires which burned thousands of acres of forest and many local residences.

Underground Mine Fire Thermal Cycle