A novel approach to eliminating environmental and public safety hazards that are associated with fires in abandoned coal mines and waste banks involves the use of in situ combustion technology developed by the federal Bureau of Mines to accelerate the burning of the wasted coals in place. This technology would be used under exhaust ventilation control conditions that would allow for total management of the hot gases produced. Combustion stoichiometries would be optimized to minimize unburnt combustibles and to maximize the heat content of the gas products, which will be exhausted at one or more fan locations. When necessary, scrubber systems would be employed to remove air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide; heat utilization systems (process heat, steam, and electricity) would also be employed to offset operational costs. Ultimately, complete burnout would solve the fire and acid water formation problems of the abandoned coal mine or waste bank.