Arkansas officials have been scrambling for answers ever since flames erupted from the earth on September 17 in Midway. So far, every possibility has been ruled out — including the Prince of Darkness. Per the Baxter Bulletin, an investigation by local officials, including Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass, has cleared the Devil of any wrongdoing. Pendergrass commented on this particular theory to help give religious residents some peace of mind.
“As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we’ve ruled that out. He didn’t come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out.”
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the hole itself has been in existence for at least a decade, which seemingly squashes other theories such as a meteorite crashing to the ground and bursting into flames. People have also questioned the possibility of any nearby leaking fuel lines, but it has been confirmed that no such leaks are possible in the area.
During the unusual incident, flames shot 12 feet into the air as if they were trying to pierce the sky. The fire then reduced to a height of 8 feet, where it remained active for more than 40 minutes.
The hole is located directly in front of a billboard for a local surgeon named Dr. Win Moore – and no, this isn’t a joke from The Onion. Dr. Moore indicated that the media attention surrounding the fire has been a welcome source of free advertising. As a bonus, the flames didn’t cause any damage to the billboard.
Although this mystery has been burning in the minds of local residents for weeks, soil samples taken from the scene still haven’t been tested. Until that happens, it will be difficult to rule out other theories.
The comments section of the IFLScience! report on this story points out a few interesting possibilities. One conspiracy theorist posits that there are hidden super volcanoes underneath the ground in Arkansas that are reactivating. Another theory suggests that someone was burning out a yellowjacket nest and the flames shot out from the nest’s “backdoor.”
Others questioned the lack of official photos and videos, while one user stated, “I have never heard of a government authority claiming that Satan was not involved. I find this disturbing because I had not considered that Satan might possiblt [sic] exist – until now. When the government tells you it’s not ‘X’ you know d**n (?!) well that’s it’s exactly ‘X’ and nothing else but ‘X.'”
A much more plausible theory is that fracking is involved. However, the Fayetteville Shale that is used for fracking in the Arkoma basin is more than 100 miles away, which makes this an unlikely culprit in this context. For now, all we know for sure about this Arkansas mystery is that Satan probably didn’t have anything to do with it.