Kenya Foy
January 18, 2017 12:40 pm
Giles Clarke/Getty Images

Oh, hell no. That’s the first thought that came to mind when we laid eyes upon this so-called “door to hell” in Turkmenistan that’s been burning for decades. For some reason beyond our comprehension, people are totally comfortable hanging out in this literal hot spot, with some even daring to dangle their feet over the fiery brim of the natural gas crater that sits in the Karakum Desert.

Apparently, this giant hole in the ground has been ablaze for more than 40 years, and brave tourists travel from all over to witness its fiery intensity up close and in person.

As Smithsonian Mag details, the backstory behind the subterranean inferno begins in 1971, when a group of geologists started drilling in what they believed to be a pretty sizable oil field.  While drilling, they hit a pocket of natural gas which caused the site to collapse, opening several large craters in the ground. As a result, the newly formed gaps in the Earth increased the likelihood of explosions and exposed animals in the area to breathing problems, which eventually began to kill them off.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY A picture taken on May 3, 2014, shows people visiting "The Gateway to Hell," a huge burning gas crater in the heart of Turkmenistan's Karakum desert. The fiery pit was the result of a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists in 1971 after their boring equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern and a deep sinkhole formed. Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out. But the flames have not gone out in more than 40 years, in a potent symbol of the vast gas reserves of Turkmenistan, which are believed to be the fourth largest in the world. AFP PHOTO / IGOR SASIN (Photo credit should read IGOR SASIN/AFP/Getty Images)
IGOR SASIN/AFP/Getty Images

In a prime example of humans trying and failing miserably to clean up their misguided messes, the scientists thought it would be a great idea to simply burn away the gas, which they believed would take a few weeks. And yet, more than four decades later, the gas continues to burn.

The lesson in all of this? When you cause a disaster, find a way to turn it into a natural phenomenon.

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