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Will the Gates of Hell Be Closed Forever?

Drive three and a half hours north of Turkmenistan’s capital, into the flat, seemingly empty desert. In the middle of nowhere, you’ll see it. Bright orange flames rise out of an infernal abyss, licking the night sky. The air at the pit’s edge is thick and hot, like standing too close to an erupting volcano. It smells faintly of propane, and it is loud, like a jet engine revving up. Welcome to the Gates of Hell—at least until its devilish blaze is snuffed out.

In January of 2022, Turkmenistan’s President announced plans to extinguish the decades-old conflagration in the chasm. He cited safety concerns for those living nearby as well as economic loss as valuable methane gas burns off into the atmosphere. But he didn’t specify how he would put out the immense fire—perhaps by filling in the crater or diverting the gas elsewhere.

People have been trying to put out the crater’s fires since they first ignited—whenever that was. No one even knows exactly how or when the crater formed. The most widely circulated story about the crater says it formed in 1971 following a drilling accident. The Soviets were drilling in the desert for natural gas, when the drilling rig collapsed into the earth. Hoping to burn off the methane gas that floated up from the newly formed crater, the Soviets lit it on fire. They thought it would burn off the methane in a day or two. Five decades later, the crater’s still burning.

It’s rumored the Soviets tried to stop the blaze several times. But the fiery hellscape has continued to burn, drawing more and more tourists each year. The crater’s growing popularity is largely thanks to the internet and viral photos of the unearthly phenomenon.

But it may be harder to stop the flames than just pouring a bunch of sand into the pit. Explorer George Kourounis said, “As I was digging into the ground to gather soil samples, fire would start coming out of the hole I just freshly dug because it was creating new paths for the gas to come out of the crater. So even if you were to extinguish the fire and cover it up, there’s a chance that the gas could still find its way out to the surface and all it would take is one spark to light it up again.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

This deadly manmade fire may one day be extinguished. But the real fires of hell will burn forever according to the Lord’s own words as he described the Lake of Fire, the destiny of the unsaved.

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