BANKS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A mine fire in Carbon County that crews have been battling for years is finally extinguished.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection made the announcement at a public meeting in Tresckow Wednesday night.
Residents and Banks Township supervisors were at the Tresckow Volunteer Fire Company to get the news they've been waiting to hear for years.
DEP says the fire burning in the Jeansville mine has been extinguished. Crews had been battling the fire since 2015.
“We were mostly concerned about the possibility of a similar situation like Centralia happening,” said resident Kevin Fergel.
“Tonight, we can definitively say that the DEP and the Bureau of Abandon Mine Reclamation sees no evidence now that there's any remaining fire at the site,” said DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly.
DEP says the fire was discovered in 2012 by the Hazleton Shaft Company, a mining company that was digging coal on an active mine site. When the company found the fire was also burning in an adjacent abandoned mine, DEP called in crews fight it.
“Not knowing, really, in our eyes at the time, where the fire was or what was really burning and what else was it moving towards,” said McAdoo Assistant Fire Chief Robert Leshko.
Work was temporarily halted when a federally protected species of bat was found living in the mine as DEP determined how to work around their habitat as best as possible.
Moving forward, DEP says it will be working with federal wildlife officials to make sure the bat habitat is protected from any future mining.
“To make sure we didn't impact the bat habitat, some of the bats had to be moved, make sure we don't impact them anymore,” said Connolly. “Any further mining, any active mining at site doesn't infringe on the bat habitat.”
DEP says it also plans to replant trees and other vegetation that had to be removed around the mine site to fight the fire.