A Half-Century Blaze.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest fires ever recorded in history is that of the famous burning coal mine of Summit Hill, Pa. In 1858, just fity-one years ago last February, the fire commenced. Since that time it has smoldered steadily. eating up hundreds of thousands of tons of coal and burning its way deep under ground to a point a mile westward from Summit Hill. Today a final attempt is being made to. extinguish it. The shaft in which the fire began, led into a mine that had been worked for many years. Lack of men and lack of means prevented a proper fighting of the danger when it started, says Popular Mechanics. In the early days of coal mining, much of the coal which is now regarded as valuable was considered worthless, and discarded as refuse. The enormous quantites of this discarded coal became combustible fuel to the hungry fire.
In 18(52 the company attempted to make an open cut to block off flic fire. After an excavation of 2,000 ft. was accomplished, the work for some now unknown reason was abandoned. The next attempt was made sixteen years ago. Holes were sunk until cracks or open shafts were struck, and into these were poured refuse, water and wet clay, the purpose being to block the fire by a wall of such material. More than 600 holes were sunk, and into these thousands of tons of “gob” or slush was forced, some of the holes eating up as much as 8,000 tons of material. Several hundred thousand dollars was spent in this work, but the fire crept around the impeding walls and continued to burn.
Now, however, expert engineers have evolved a scheme which it is believed will finally achieve the desired result, at a cost close to $1,000,000. Six shafts arc being sunk into the earth across the path of the fire, the first being an open cut 100 ft. long and 12 ft. wide. Three of the remaining shafts will be .0 ft. long by 12 ft. wide, and the other 20 ft. long by 12 ft. wide All arc situated 50 ft. apart and will be sunk to the coal vein, at a depth of more than 200 ft. All the coal will be taken from these shafts and from the intervening space between them, a solid wall of clay or concrete, or both, being substituted in place of the coal
This impregnable wall of solid material will extend to the bottom of the vein in the valley, where water wil complete the barrier.