A well is drilled from the surface of the earth into an underground coal formation. The coal seam is fractured by fluids injected under pressure. Methane entrained in the cracks and fissures is removed to surface facilities. Coal seam in the vicinity of well bore is partially dewatered. Diameter of well bore in the coal section is enlarged first by underreaming the hole, then by a vertical in situ burn to form a collection chimney. Methane desorbed from the coal is withdrawn to surface facilities.