Midstate congressman hopes mine fire gets resolved soon

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Nov 22, 2015 5:25 AM

(Jeansville, Luzerne County) -- People living near a mine fire burning in central Pennsylvania are complaining of awful smells.

Republican Lou Barletta is getting involved too, saying the Jeansville fire is hard to predict, because it can cool down in one spot and quickly spark up another.

The fire, just south of Hazleton in Luzerne County, was discovered in 2012, but it's not clear how long it's been burning.

People say it leaves disgusting smells in the air - rotten eggs and sulphur, mostly.

Barletta, who represents Columbia County and parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Northumberland and Perry counties, remembers what he was thinking when the fire was first noticed.

"It was of great concern, especially for us who all remember Centralia and what can happen with these mine fires. I feel satisfied that we have all of the players on the same page," says Barletta.

Barletta says the state Department of Environmental Protection plans to bid for a contractor to contain the fire and then focus on putting it out"Now, the fire's been burning for over 40 years so naturally it's not going to put out overnight."

He says in fighting the fire, he and others are learning from Centralia, a notorious mine fire burning for 40-plus years that has forced people out of their homes.

He says 38 mine fires are burning in Pennsylvania, but the Jeansville one is unique because there are still active mining operations occurring nearby.

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