MONROE, MI (WTOL) - A Monroe icon was reduced to nothing earlier this month.
Nortel Lanes, located on 611 N. Telegraph Road, is now listed as permanently closed online.
And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives out of Detroit is assisting Monroe fire and police crews in the investigation into the fire.
Crews say they got the call for the fire around 2:30 a.m. The bowling alley closed for the night at midnight.
Crews say the bowling alley was engulfed in flames when they arrived to the scene, but they were able to contain the flames to just the bowling alley.
After quickly analyzing the fire and the building, crews determined it would be too dangerous to enter the building to fight the fire from the inside.
"Unfortunately, the design is such that it collapses quickly when under stress from heat - not only collapsing downward, but can also force the load-bearing walls to collapse outward. For the safety of our personnel, our strategy was to go into defensive mode, which translates to no interior attacks,” said Monroe Fire Chief Robert Wight.
Crews say the structure is a total loss, and the building did not have a sprinkler system installed. The workers are devastated, but no one was hurt and no one was in the building at the time of the fire.
We’re told Nortel Lanes as been open since 1961, and the building was an icon in Monroe.
“This is one of the older buildings in Monroe. It’s an icon to the city of Monroe, a tragic loss obviously,” said Chief Wight. “A lot of people came here to bowl, it’s been here a long time. It’s a sad time for the city of Monroe.”
“Devastating,” said Robert Sieb, president of Nortel Lanes. “My dad built this place, so it’s been in the family for over 50 years. It’s tragic for all of the people that have basically bowled here for years: the kids, a lot of the old timers. It’s devastating."
Crews investigating the fire say the blaze could have started in the kitchen, but it is unclear at this time.
“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,” Chief Wight said.
In addition to the Monroe Fire Department and their off-duty firefighters, the Frenchtown Township and Berlin Township fire departments also responded. Crews got the fire under control around 8 a.m.
Telegraph Rd. was closed for a time due to the fire.