Early morning fire destroys Monroe bowling alley, community mourns

Nortel Lanes is being called a complete loss after an early Wednesday morning fire (WNWO).

MONROE, Michigan (WNWO) -- A popular bowling alley in Monroe is gone after fire destroyed it early Wednesday morning.

Nortel Lanes went up in flames around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Monroe Fire Department said it took 30 firefighters to contain the blaze.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries are being reported and it's being called a total loss.

But the community is mourning its loss.

"It's not a bowling alley it was like a home to us," said Theresa Thrift who worked at Nortel Lanes for 23 years.

The Monroe Fire Department says it took 30 firefighters from multiple departments to help contain the blaze.

The bowling alley had 66 lanes that contributed to how quickly the structure engulfed in flames.

"I mean they're thick maple and pinewood on your older ones, you have a lot of beams, wooden beams in this one, older construction, so once it gets going good and hot it burns pretty quick," said Capt. Matthew Poremba, Monroe Fire Department.

The bowling alley opened in 1961 and was home to memories spanning generations.

"My mother bowled here, I bowled here, my daughter bowled here and I have five grandchildren that bowled here," said Thrift.

Long time residents say it was more than just a bowling alley and that it held a special place in so many peoples lives.

Many of them stopped by the burnt down throughout the day to pay tribute to the community staple.

"If you watch along the road everybody's coming to see it, it's a big deal for the citizens of Monroe and its going to be sad to lose it," said Capt. Poremba.

The fire is under investigation and officials say the property did not have a sprinkler system installed.

In a press release Monroe Fire Chief Robert Wight said "this is going to be a very difficult fire to investigate. Because of the extreme conditions and extent of the fire, it will be very difficult to determine a cause."

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