Coal underground may have been burning for 150 years near where the Marshall Fire started northwest of Denver

Coal mine at Marshall, Colorado, 1884 until 1936
Coal mine at Marshall, Colorado, 1884 until 1936. 9News

A television station in Denver, 9News, has found that in the general area where investigators are narrowing down the origin and cause of the Marshall Fire northwest of Denver an underground coal seam has been burning since the 1870s.

In December, 2005 after a portion of the burning seam emerged on the surface and started a vegetation fire the Office of Surface Mining advised the City of Boulder, which owns the land, “It would be prudent for the City of Boulder to remove any vegetation from surface cracks, as well as begin a long term maintenance and monitoring program for the area.” In 2005 the spread of the fire was stopped quickly.

The City hauled in 275 tons of gravel with the intention of least insulating the fire from the surface. But these underground fires have a habit of creeping their way back up and too often ignite fires. They are next to impossible to extinguish.

9News reported that the M. P. Fox mine in the area operated from 1884 until 1936.

Pushed by winds gusting at 60 to 100 mph, the Marshall Fire spread rapidly as it destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Most were in the city of Louisville and the town of Superior.

The 9News video below has more details.

On a different topic, but related to the Marshall Fire, we learn in the next video that 17 of the houses that were in the burned area but survived have been sold.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Gerald.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.