Hidden fire chokes last life from US ghost town

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That is the bizarre fate of Centralia, where a vast, subterranean coal fire ignited in an accident almost 50 years ago, gradually turning the settlement, about two hours drive from Philadelphia, into a ghost town.

Of the original population of around 1,000, fewer than a dozen people remain, refusing to obey government orders to leave their homes.

Fading signs still mark Plum Street, or Apple, or Grape. There are telephone poles, street lamps, and graveyards - four of them.

But there are almost no homes. Bare grass lines the crumbling sidewalks. Sometimes a few steps ending in thin air betray where a house stood before being torn down.

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