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State Funds to Fight Mine Fire in Olyphant

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OLYPHANT, Pa. -- A mine fire in Lackawanna County that's burned for almost 15 years may soon be extinguished.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has promised funding to put out the fire in Olyphant.

"What annoys me is other communities had their mine fires put out, and we were shoved on the side, which I don't think is fair to the people of Olyphant," said Jerry Tully.

Tully, a borough councilman, was called to the Dolph Mine area in 2004 for a small fire. It then spread and has burned ever since.

Back in 2006, crews built a 200-foot trench around the burning coal to keep the fire from spreading.

The state has now offered Olyphant a long-term solution, making money available to start extinguishing the fire next year.

Many might not even know that the mine fire is there. It's not far from the Olyphant exit on the Casey Highway (Route 6) about a quarter mile from the road.

Melissa Schlittler didn't know it was there.

"Fires burning out of control, kind of not awesome news, right? But taking care of it, better news," Schlittler said.

Tully says in the right conditions, he's reminded of it.

"On a misty, light rain morning, you can smell the sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide."

The state Department of Environmental Protection says it's too early to tell how long the fire will take to put out or how much money it will cost in the end.

But for Tully, putting it out is priceless.

"That would be a perfect place to put a very, very high-end housing development, the view up there is absolutely incredible. You can see to Old Forge and Carbondale."

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