Mysterious fire-spewing hole not caused by Satan or meteorite

At least that narrows things down a bit for a bizarre hole in the ground in Arkansas.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

It came from below. 

On Sept. 17, a hole in the ground in Midway, Arkansas, kicked out a column of flames like a mini hellmouth for 40 minutes. Officials are still trying to figure out what caused it.

Local newspaper The Baxter Bulletin tweeted a photo of the scorched, now extinguished hole.

Could it be Satan? "As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we've ruled that out," Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette earlier this week. "He didn't come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out." 

How about a fire-bringing meteorite from beyond the sky? No on that, too. The volleyball-sized hole has been there for years.

The Arkansas Geological Survey checked out the hole and said it was created by an animal. The investigation ruled out a methane leak as the potential source of the flames.

"I can't think of any geologic situation that would allow that to happen. Not in this area," Arkansas Geological Survey geologist Ty Johnson told KARK news. "There's not any fossil fuels, or natural gas or petroleum that occurs in the area." 

Scientists are now waiting on lab test results for soil samples taken from the spot. 

It seems the investigation has not yet explored the possibility of a dragon infestation or whether groundhogs have figured out how to harness the power of fire. It seems the fire-breathing hole will remain a mystery for now.

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