MONROE, MI (WTOL) - A community is mourning the loss of their city’s icon.
Flames have transformed a beloved Monroe Bowling Alley into rubble.
Firefighters responded to a fire at Nortel Lanes around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Opened in 1961, the town icon has been bringing friends and families together for nearly 60 years. Many community members recall fond childhood memories of the bowling alley.
One woman said she bowled there just a few days ago.
"It’s heartbreaking. I mean to see it all just diminish and everything. When my husband brought that up on his phone this morning on the police news, I was like ‘no way.’ I was like ‘that can’t be gone.’ This is one of the main attractions in Monroe County,” Jennifer Snodgrass said.
She has been visiting the bowling alley since she was a little girl.
Like Jennifer, another community member said he’s grown up bowling and attending birthday parties at the alley. But its loss will have a deeper effect on his family.
"My family basically grew up here, I remember being here at nine years old with my parents on a bowling league. And my brother and my sister-in-law both are employed here too, so they’re losing their jobs. It’s just really sad,” Jason Ambrose said.
Four departments and 30 firefighters fought the blaze for until 8 a.m. Even Monroe’s fire chief recognizes what the building’s loss means for the community.
"It's a sad time for the City of Monroe. It's a great building and it's gonna be, uh, it's gonna hurt for a little while,” Monroe Fire Chief Robert Wight said.
No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries have been reported. Some initial reports mentioned the fire started in the kitchen. Yet Chief Wight said while it’s possible, he doesn’t want to speculate.
A full investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.