Don't Wait to Put Out the Fire

I smell smoke. You better put out the fire now.  What am I talking about?

Let me tell you about Centralia, Pennsylvania. This is a story about bad decisions, lies, blame and waiting too long.

Centralia was a thriving coal mining town in Pennsylvania. In 1962, the town was cleaning up for its annual Memorial Day parade and celebration. Part of that job was tidying up the town dump.  Like many times before, burning a portion of the garbage was one of the tasks.  
The city hired five of its volunteer firefighters to do this job.  There is still controversy today on the actual cause, but the result was the fire traveled underground and ignited a deep seam of coal.  Today, sixty-two years later, the fire still burns.

Back in 1962, the city council realized that the fire was burning.  They tried a couple of times to extinguish the fire on the surface but were unsuccessful.  A lot of meetings were held. Soon, there was more discussion, argument and blame than action. The city sent a letter to the mining company saying they had no idea how the fire started.

For a period of time, people enjoyed the “benefits” of the fire. Tomatoes would grow almost all year-round.  No one had to shovel snow or clear roads of ice.  But people started to get sick and smoke began rising from the ground. A part of the highway collapsed.  One day, when the owner of a gas station checked his tanks, he found out the gas in the underground tank was 172 degrees. A 12-year-old boy was playing in his grandmother’s backyard when a 150-foot-deep sinkhole opened up under his feet.  He held on to the root of a tree until his cousin pulled him to safety.

Eventually, the federal government decided the cost to put out the fire was greater than the value of the whole town. In 1992, the governor condemned every building in Centralia and the city’s zip code was revoked.

It’s been estimated that the problem could have been fixed for about $1000 if handled right away. Or about $10,000 if handled within the first month. But as time and blame and waiting went on, over $50 million dollars was spent and the entire town of Centralia and another nearby town are just gone.

The people who lived in Centralia lost everything because they did not know how to deal with their garbage. Today, there are still a lot of people who don’t know how to deal with their garbage.  There is a fire, caused by sin smoldering deep in their heart. Maybe they realize they are on fire and destined to burn, maybe they haven’t yet.

The only way to extinguish this fire is Jesus Christ. He can save you. Don’t wait until it’s too late.  If you or someone you know is being consumed from within by sin, Jesus is the answer. He can deal with your garbage and save you from the fire.  Contact us at Villa Heights if you want to know more about Jesus and how He can save you.
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