In 2019, it seemed like the whole planet was burning: California, the Amazon, Australia, even Greenland experienced serious wildfires. Welcome to the new normal: a world on fire. Those serious and deadly conflagrations eventually went out, often through the efforts of dedicated firefighters. The blazes were intense, widespread, devastating—but fleeting. The fires on this list are of a different breed. They’re smaller and contained. And it will be a long time before they go out.
These fires are often created by humans, usually from mining or drilling activity, from the accident that caused the Gates of Hell to open in Turkmenistan, to the mysterious, apocalyptic fire beneath Centralia, Pennsylvania. In most cases, they involve the ongoing combustion of vast stores of coal or natural gas. Some have been burning for decades, others for millennia, but they’re all strangely beautiful and alluring.