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Q: I hear there's something in Kirkuk, Iraq, that's like the "Eternal Flame" that people come and visit as tourists. What's up with that?

A: On a hill behind Kirkuk's 1940's-era oil processing plant, there's a natural feature that makes the aging oil facility seem positively modern by comparison. Natural gas vents that residents say have been burning for thousands of years sit in a car-sized dirt cauldron on a hill. The vents — which spurt waist-high flames — have been mentioned in ancient sources as far back as biblical times. While the individual vents move from location to location over the years, the so-called "eternal flame" has been burning for centuries.

For a cheap thrill, visitors can stand in the middle of the flames and withstand the heat — as long as they avoid standing atop the actual vents. What better place to snap that perfect Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego Christmas-card photo?

The three of them were involved in a little fire-walking of their own in the old story about King Nebuchadnezzar and his idol. Want to know more about that one? You'll have to look that up for yourself…

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