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Neighbors worry homes at risk because of underground mines

SPRINGFIELD -- People in one neighborhood say they've heard rumors about their property being on top of a mine and now they have proof.
SPRINGFIELD -- People in one neighborhood say they've heard rumors about their property being on top of a mine and now they have proof. The state now has a better grasp on where underground coal mines are located and a map has been created to show where they are. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has more.

Most weren't too surprised to learn about the mines, but they were glad to see the new map because now they know exactly where coal mines are under businesses and residential areas.

An outside might not suspect there's trouble lurking in this quiet neighborhood, but to local, Patty Becker... "It's no surprise. It's no surprise."

Area homes are facing an invisible threat.

"Things could be worse."

Age-old rumors of their streets and homes being undermined are now found to be true.

"My dad bought this empty lot and he's the one that built this house here. I remember him saying that they thought there were mines here, but not to worry, that everything would be okay."

The Department of Natural Resources says areas between MacArthur Boulevard and Fifth Street, plus Ash and Laurel, sit on top of abandoned coal mines. In her 62 years in the home, Becker's been okay so far.

But, down the street, Pat Davlin shares a different story. His dad built his childhood home in 1939. There haven't been any problems until now.

"Before I purchased the house, I asked a friend who was down at the clerk's office, who taxed mines, where the closest mines were and I was told, 'Don't worry about it. They all end at South Grand.'"

In January, a bathroom pipe was frozen.

"Wind was whipping in and it freezed the pipe."

So, learning there was a draft, he climbed into his crawl space and saw light coming in.

"When I came outside to inspect why I would have light coming through the wall, I discovered the house had been separated by an inch or so."

The main house had separated from an addition he bu8ilt in 1990. So, DNR has started looking into the area.

"They've sent out a crew that have put pins in and around the house and they do surveying to determine if it is still moving, and if so, by how much."

The agency will continue to monitor Davlin's home. But, until the house stops shifting, Davlin and his wife are playing the waiting game with their insurance.

Coal has been mined in 76 of the state's 102 counties. There have been more than 7,400 in operation since they began in the early 1800's.

For more information, click here or here or call the Information Office at (217) 244 - 2414.
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