It was quite a bizarre sight to be seen. Flames reached up to 8 feet high and lasted for more than 40 minutes. Fire inspectors are mystified at what caused this to happen. Speculations have run wild about this, as people try to piece together various different clues.
There are a number of different theories about this. Some of them include this being caused by a methane pocket of some kind, which ignited decaying plant matter. The ground where the hole opened up and began burning is located in Baxter County, Arkansas. This is a rural small community, with just over 1,000 people living here. The ground fire started on September 17, 2018.
When Black Hills Energy offered to participate in this ongoing investigation, they were first contacted by the local fire department. After these technicians arrived, they detected no natural gas within the area. There seemed to be no utility or fuel lines here, which might have been leaking.
A number of soil samples have been taken from the mysterious hole. They have yet to be analyzed yet. Whenever these samples have been finished from being tested, this will help determine what exactly happened or at least give some kind of an explanation about it.
It really is quite weird, yet something like this likely has happened before elsewhere. A man named Jim Sierzchula from Baxter County emergency, conducted tests and gathered samples from the area on September 21st.
Jim Sierzchula, the Baxter County emergency management director, and geologists from the Arkansas Geological Survey investigated on September 21st. What they found with their camera was a nearby drainage ditch about 10 feet away and 3 feet below the ground surface. It was later determined to be an animal hole according to Danny Rains from the geological survey team.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality later checked four different underground fuel storage tanks in the area, none of them were leaking. This makes this incident quite strange indeed. Two of the tanks located at Midway Citgo and Deli and the other two are located at Gearhead Garage.
After inspection, it appears that none of these tanks contributed to the fire, that burned inside the hole located at on private property. On this property is a billboard advertising Dr. Win Moore, who is a surgeon at Baxter Regional Medical Center’s Bone & Joint Clinic in Mountain Home. It appears as though the good doctor has received a bit of free press and advertising over the burning hole. The billboard wasn’t damaged either.
Donald Tucker, went on to say that the hole acted like a chimney, it was drawing air from a lower elevation. Eventually, it burned up all of the self sustaining fuel and later burned out on its own. It still remains a mystery, as people search for answers.
(Source: Arkansas Democrat Gazette)