Harold Mervine outside his Centralia home
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Fifty years of fire in the abandoned US town of Centralia

8 August 2012 Last updated at 08:10 BST

Half a century ago, a landfill fire in the Pennsylvanian town of Centralia spread underground to an abandoned coal mine.

The blaze has been burning beneath the community ever since.

Fears about toxic gases and dangerous sinkholes led the authorities to evacuate more than 1,000 people from the town in the 1980s. Around 500 structures were demolished as part of the multi-million dollar federal relocation scheme.

In 2002 Centralia's postal zip code was revoked. And now the state is taking action to remove the remaining homeowners.

Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development declined an interview request. But the authorities insist the blaze still has the potential to open up new paths for deadly gases to reach other parts of the town.

The BBC's Matthew Danzico went to Centralia to meet the few Centralia residents who have refused to leave, claiming that their part of town is not threatened by the fire.

They have challenged the authorities' right to seize their homes using the legal power of eminent domain. However, that argument was rejected in a court ruling last month.