Gateway to hell? Locals terrified by 800C flaming sinkhole which has appeared in mountains The 800C fire hole, which has all the appearances of a gateway to Hades, was discovered by villagers in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjianag in north-western China last week.  Although superstitious residents are steering clear baffled geologists and mining experts have flocked to catch a glimpse of the strange hole.  Even two metres away the heat blasting from the 80cm wide hole has been measured at 792C (1457F). The intense heat is making it difficult for experts to get close enough to determine the hole’s depth. Superstitious Chinese villagers have branded it a “gateway to hell”. But experts from Xinjiang Meitian Geological Bureau said the hill is not a volcanic area and the hole is probably formed by a spontaneous combustion of coal, which causes the surface layer to collapse.  Geologist Hu Tan, who is leading the investigation, said: “The air blasting out of the hole is so hot, that if you hold a branch near to it bursts into flames. “Although it is unusual, we’re pretty certain that it has been caused by the spontaneous combustion of coal.” His colleague, mining expert Cao Jianwen, said the area used to be a coal mine back in the 1970s and there were documented examples of similar phenomena from previous years. He added: “We have recorded a temperature of around 792C, which is pretty hot and I can understand that locals are superstitious. FULL REPORT