First published in 1986, "Slow Burn" chronicles Centralia's demise from an underground coal mine fire and depicts a singular epic event in Pennsylvania history, representing the confluence of environmental, scientific, bureaucratic, and emotional tragedies. As an award-winning photojournalist, Jacobs moved into a house in Centralia's impact zone in 1983 to document in photographs and interviews the end stages of the tiny anthracite coal town's unsuccessful fight to resolve the intractable problems that began with the mine fire in 1962 and culminated in the razing of the town by the federal government.
Renee Jacobs went on to study environmental law as a result of her work in Centralia. She practiced civil rights and constitutional law for fifteen years. In 2007 she returned to photography.