12/20/07 (I think.  :) ;) ) Baldwin Burough

      I've been through the desert on a mine fire with no name. . . .  :) :) -To the best of my knowledge, this mine fire! FIRE!! FIRE!!!! (Um, heh-heh. Heh. Heh. -Sorry about that.  :) ) doesn't have a name, 'n stuff.  (I only know about it because I was contacted (via email---while in Alaska (!!) :) :) ) by a one James Grant.  Thanks, James!! :) :)

      4/18/08 A side note: In one of the most AMAZING COINCIDENCES OF MY LIFE (!!!!), I find out that Bobbi Jo (of The Fairbanks Doggie Park fame) (I've known her for years.) HAS RELATIVES ON CHURCHVIEW AVENUE!!!!  In fact, three houses in a row are owned by her various aunts and uncles (the Lutzes---presumably of no relation to "the famous Lutzes." -No one's going to remember that one, John. . . .  -The "famous Lutzes," that is.  (. . .) :) ;) )

I find this . . . beyond astounding.

      It truly is a "small world."  -Travel 5,000 miles, and run into someone with childhood memories---of one avenue in a GIANT city.  (. . .) (She actually remembers the place, before they filled in with ?culm? (more below).)  (Oh! -And her sister used to live where the apartment complexes are now (different ones, then) (!!)---back when Churchview Avenue still connected with the highway (at the end).)

-Small world, eh?

      Anyway ( :) ), my Dad and I again arrived just a little too close to [the time of] the sun setting (AGAIN :P :P )---and I set of in search of the fire! FIRE!! FIRE!!!!  (Um, heh-heh. Heh. Heh. -Sorry about that.  :) ) (My Dad seems inordinately concerned about my safety.  (. . .))

      I was able to cover a truly astonishing (I think.) amount of territory---for an already tired 40-year-old man.  :P :P However, all I was able to find was . . . one questionable "hot spot" (a (roughly circular) patch of green vegetation, with snow around it).  This was the only evidence I was able to find.  -I should've taken a picture of it (I was really trying to conserve the battery---as I had managed to leave the charger--and the spare batteries--in Alaska.  :P :P :P :P )---as it was the only evidence of an underground fire I was able to find.  :( :(

      When I got back, [it] turning dark, and me feeling defeated---I found out that my Dad had been able to talk to a local about this fire.  He said that the guy told him that probably only people of his age would be able to remember---but this whole "hill" used to be nothing but a sharp drop-off.  They filled it in at some point---with what they had available.  (Which in western Pennsylvania is either slag (from a blast furnace---remember this is Pittsburgh :P ;) ) or "culm" (waste coal.).

      Well, apparently a few years after they filled it in, it started smokin'.  Then, it stopped for a few years.  Then--inexplicably--it started again.  The older fella told my Dad that he had been walking his dog in this area for years---and knew the location of all seven "vents."

      However, they had been "winding down" for some time---and the last one left "venting" . . . hadn't done so in about a year.  I was too late.  I don't think I'll ever have a measure of how much pursuing this PhD has cost me.  /end rant

      :P :)

      Well, I guess that about closes the books on this one.  -Given how extraordinarily difficult this one is to get to (Pittsburgh)--and the fact that there is no longer any signs of the fire on the surface--I don't know if I'll ever be back.  However, I really want to thank you again--James--for letting me know about it.