Centralia residents free to stay

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 31, 2013 1:46 PM

(Centralia) -- The few remaining residents of a Columbia County coal town that was decimated by a 50-year-old mine fire have settled their lawsuit against state officials who have tried for years to evict them.

The settlement allows eight residents of Centralia to stay in their homes for as long as they live. Their attorney, Don Bailey, says that it also includes a cash payout.

The mine fire began in 1962 and spread underneath the town, threatening residents with poisonous gases and dangerous sinkholes. By the end of the 1980s, more than 1,000 people had moved and 500 structures demolished under a $42 million federal relocation program.

But some holdouts refused to go, saying the fire posed little danger to their part of town.

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