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Deadly Colorado blaze renews focus on underground coal fires

Colorado Wildfires Coal Mines
Posted at 1:01 PM, Jan 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-30 14:01:36-05

DENVER (AP) — Authorities investigating the cause of a wildfire that destroyed more than 1,000 buildings last month in Colorado are looking at the possibility that the blaze is linked to underground coal fires that have long smoldered at old coal mines in the area.

Authorities say the mines are just one of the possible causes they are looking into.

Across the U.S. officials are tracking more than 200 underground mine fires in more than a dozen states, and those are just the ones documented.

As climate change leads to drought across large swaths of a U.S. West that's already seeing longer and more destructive fire seasons, experts say smoldering coal fires will pose a continuing threat.

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