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There was no fire, but the ground was hot enough in a Colorado Springs park to burn through an eight year old boy’s shoes and cause at least second degree burns on his feet. The boy went the hospital. His Crocs style shoes that were left behind have big holes with burned edges.
What they found has a relatively simple solution according to Kurt Schroeder with Colorado Springs Parks, "What the state representatives indicated to us is that the coal spoil that's been on top of the ground for years and years reacts with the sun, heat of the sun and it spontaneously combusts.
Peat has a high carbon content and can burn under low moisture conditions. Once ignited by the presence of a heat source (e.g. a wildfire penetrating the subsurface), it smoulders. These smouldering fires can burn undetected for very long periods of time (months, years and even centuries) propagating in a creeping fashion through the underground peat layer.
Mine fires can burn for very long periods of time (from months to centuries), until the seam in which they smoulder is exhausted. They propagate in a creeping fashion along mines shafts and cracks. Because they are underground, they are extremely difficult and costly to reach and extinguish. There is a strong similarity between mine fires and peat fires.