Centralia Mine Fire 53 Years Later-As Seen Through The Eyes Of My 95 Year Old Grandmother


It was May of 1962 and the underground mine fire in Centralia started to burn–it is still burning today– Centralia has become a tourist destination– a curiosity of sorts–but for many others- like Reporter Andy Mehalshick and his family

it is part of his history- Andy’s 95 year old maternal grandmother raised 6 children in Centralia and was forced to leave town in the mid late 1980’s as the town turned into a ghost town—

Helen Timpko–aka “Baba”–said–“When it first started in 1962 everyone thought it was a garbage dump fire–they put water on it but it kept burning– I don’t think they did enough-” 

Baba added, “I miss Centralia–it was home for my family– we have such great memories–even when the kids come home now they will drive through Centralia just to look around and remember-“

There are a few families that have stayed in Centralia–most of their homes have venting systems to prevent deadly fumes from entering the home–

Andy’s  grandmother said, “They say you can’t look back but I do look back it will always be home–”

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