Experts are trying to determine the cause of flames of up to 12 feet high spontaneously erupting from a pit in Midway, Arkansas, last month.
So far, they’ve come up empty. But they know what didn’t cause it.
“As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we’ve ruled that out,” county Judge Mickey Pendergrass told Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “He didn’t come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out.”
The fire burned for about 40 minutes on Sept. 17 from a hole believed to have been made by animals, the newspaper said.
“I took a temperature reading of it and it showed 780 degrees inside the hole,” fire Chief Donald Tucker told the Springfield News-Leader. “But what caused it? I have no idea. There’s no gas lines nearby and there was no smell of natural gas.”
He also ruled out a meteor strike, as the 3.5-foot-deep pit had been there for some time.
“I can’t think of any geologic situation that would allow that to happen. Not in this area,” Ty Johnson, an Arkansas Geological Survey geologist, told KY3. “There’s not any fossil fuels, or natural gas or petroleum that occurs in the area.”
Jim Sierzchula, director of Baxter County Office of Emergency Management, told the News-Leader there used to be a gas station nearby, but there’s no indication that it caused the fire.
Sierzchula said there were lightning strikes in the area the night before.
“What ignited it and what fueled it we still don’t know,” Pendergrass told KY3. “And it may remain forever a mystery.”