Inner Mongolia’s Coal Fires Will Be Half-Extinguished by 2012

In other out-of-control-fuel-disaster news,

China’s Xinhua news agency reports

that Inner Mongolia plans to put out half of its ongoing coal-field fires—which cover 10 square miles—by 2012.

The fires have been burning since the 1960s, and they consume 20 million tons of coal per year, or 3 percent of Inner Mongolia’s output.

Coal fires are stubbornly hard to extinguish, as the

former residents of Centralia, Pa., learned

. The underground fire that caused the evacuation of that town has been burning since 1962.

According to Xinhua, Inner Mongolia is budgeting $29 million a year to fight the fires there.