The Great Depression wasn’t enough to destroy Centralia, though, and some of the town’s mines still operated. But then in May 1962, something happened that would change the community forever. You see, unchecked landfills had apparently begun to accumulate in the area, and officials were keen to eliminate one particularly unsightly heap before Memorial Day celebrations took place.
According to historians, a decision was taken to destroy the landfill by starting a fire. And as a result, officials apparently attempted to instigate a contained blaze. Things soon got out of hand, though, and before long the inferno had spread to a coal seam that runs under the town.