The fire was reported to have started in the kitchen about 2:30 a.m., according to the 911 call.
Thursday’s edition of The Monroe News will include a full report along with photos and local residents’ memories of Nortel Lanes.
WEDNESDAY’S NEWS BULLETINS:
As of 4:02 p.m.
We’ve added more reader-submitted photos to the picture gallery on this news report.
As of 3:52 p.m.
Joshua Martinez shared with us this Facebook Live video he took during the fire.
As of 2:37 p.m.
The City of Monroe Fire Department has issued the following press release:
Monroe, Michigan – At approximately 2:29 AM the morning of December 5, 2018, the Monroe Fire Department responded to a call at 611 North Telegraph Road on report of a fire at the site of Nortel Lanes bowling alley. Upon arrival, within four minutes of dispatch, the site was found to be engulfed in flames. Assessing that the situation was a Second Alarm Fire, City of Monroe off-duty firefighters, PSOs, as well as firefighters from neighboring Monroe Township, Frenchtown Township and Berlin Township were called to the scene to assist. In total, approximately 30 staff were on hand to address the fire and secure the site.
Initial site analysis determined the age and roof design of the building prohibited firefighters from entering the property to extinguish the fire internally.
Fire Chief Robert Wight: “The roof design consisted of bowstring construction, utilized for structures that had large, open spaces with no supporting columns in the middle. 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.”
The building was not occupied at the time of the fire, with staff reportedly departing the facility at approximately 11:00 PM. The Monroe Fire Department is investigating cause of the fire, which is unknown at this time. The property did not have a sprinkler system installed.
Chief Wight: “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.”
The fire was brought under control as of 8:00 AM. The structure is estimated to be a total loss. Belfour Property Restoration was called out to secure the scene. The Red Cross was also on hand to provide support to emergency personnel.
Firefighters will be on site throughout the day hitting any remaining hot spots.
Chief Wight: “A sincere thank you to all our neighboring first responders and support personnel who arrived to assist us with this incident. We value your partnership and support.”
During incident response and securing of the site, Telegraph Road was temporarily closed, but reopened at 7:20AM.
As of 1:50 p.m.
Here’s the “share your memories” conversation on Twitter.
As of 10:58 a.m.
Additional photos can be seen at the Nortel Lanes early morning fire photo gallery.
As of 9:53 a.m.
This video clip of the firefighting effort has been added to The Monroe News’ YouTube channel.
As of 9:19 a.m.
Michigan Department of Transportation has sent a traffic alert that US-24 is back open in the area.
As of 8:54 a.m.
Monroe Township Fire has left the scene of Nortel Lanes. They were among the departments assisting City of Monroe.
As of 8:25 a.m.
The hashtags we are using on social media are #NortelLanes and #NortelLanesFire.
As of 8:01 a.m.
You’re invited to share your memories of Nortel Lanes on this Monroe News Facebook thread.
As of 7:26 a.m.
Telegraph Road is opening back up to traffic.
Cranes will be brought in for tear down of the building, according to reports.
As of 6:40 a.m.
A Monroe icon was destroyed early Wednesday morning when fire ripped through Nortel Lanes.
The fire broke out shortly before 2:30 a.m. at the bowling alley, 611 N. Telegraph Rd.
Monroe Fire Chief Rob Wight said the structure was “fully engulfed front to back” when crews arrived on scene.
“We had to get defensive very quick,” Wight said. “We brought in our neighbors quickly but it was already lost when we got there.”
Frenchtown Township, Monroe Township and Berlin Township fire departments helped the city fight the blaze.
“We couldn’t send people in because of the extent of the damage,” Wight continued.
Though initial reports to Monroe County Central Dispatch indicated the fire originated in the kitchen, Wight said his team is not sure where the fire started or what might have caused it.
Fire trucks were placed on three sides of the bowling alley to help “knock down” the fire.
The owners were alerted to the fire because of a motion sensor that was going off and were able to see the smoke inside.
The last person inside the alley left about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. No one was inside when the fire began, the chief said.
Wight said because of the age of the structure and the materials it is built out of would have made it difficult to save.
“It’s an old building and when you get damage like that in this type of roof, it makes for a dangerous situation,” he said. “It’s a total loss.”
According to the Monroe News archives, Nortel Lanes was built in 1961 with 24 lanes. In the 1970s, additions to the facility brought the bowling alley up to 66 lanes. In 2004, the bowling alley replaced the original lanes with synthetic wood.
As of 6:19 a.m.
As of 5:53 a.m.
A Facebook video was taken about 5:15 a.m. by a Monroe News employee.
As of 5:24 a.m.
Numerous emergency vehicles are on scene at Nortel Lanes, 611 N. Telegraph Rd., as a result of a structure fire.
The 911 call to Monroe County Central Dispatch about 2:29 a.m. reported a kitchen fire.
All off duty Monroe Fire Department and Monroe Public Safety Officers have been called to the scene to assist the city crews who were on duty. Monroe Township and Frenchtown Township fire departments also are on scene, as is Monroe Community Ambulance. The American Red Cross has sent a canteen truck.
Because of the fire, Michigan Department of Transportation issued an alert that US-24/ N. Telegraph Road was closed between Noble Ave. and Fredericks Drive. Monroe Public Schools’ transportation department has been advised of the closing.
DTE Energy also is on scene.
Over the years, Nortel Lanes has been the home of national and regional bowling competitions such as the United States Bowling Congress Michigan Women’s Bowling Association and the Midwest Scratch Series. Monroe County high school games also have taken place there.
Additional information will be posted later this morning.
Map of area:
‘Nothing to salvage’: Nortel Lanes in Monroe ‘total loss’ after fire
James David Dickson, The Detroit News Published 10:23 a.m. ET Dec. 5, 2018 | Updated 10:51 a.m. ET Dec. 5, 2018
A fire early Monday, at Nortel Lanes bowling alley in Monroe, destroyed much of the building, and what remained had to be torn down so “hot spots” within the fire could be extinguished, Monroe Fire Department officials confirmed.
The fire started about 2:30 a.m., and the early belief is it started in the kitchen, said Captain Mike Foley of the Monroe Fire Department. Nortel Lanes is on the 600 block of North Telegraph, which is north of North Custer.
Foley said “there’s nothing to salvage” after the fire, and that firefighters actually had to tear down part of the building to ensure the fire had been extinguished completely. “It’s a total loss,” he said.
Four other fire departments were called in to assist with the firefighting effort.
Nortel Lanes Bowling Alley Destroyed By Fire
December 05, 2018 – 6:28 am
MONROE (WWJ) – A popular bowling alley in Monroe is a total loss following a fire overnight.
The fire took off shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday at Nortel Lanes on Telegraph Road, between Stewart and Custer roads. When firefighters arrived on the scene just minutes after receiving the call, the building was engulfed in flames.
Nortel Lanes bowling alley on Telegraph in the City of Monroe is gutted by fire. No injuries reported. Possibly started in the kitchen, after-hours. Telegraph/M-24 closed btwn Fredericks and Lorain. Listen @WWJ950 and https://t.co/7uNfevdgGz. Online at https://t.co/9bsne9SkBL. pic.twitter.com/a9YJ1qXMvH
— Mike Campbell (@reportermikec) December 5, 2018
Fire Chief Rob White said the building, which opened in 1961, was completely gutted by the fire.
“Unfortunately, there was very, very hot, very flammable stuff that burns in there, oils and stuff like that. So, it’s been a pretty hot fire,” White told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “We got a lot of assistance from neighboring fire departments so the guys are doing everything they can to put the fire out.”
No injuries were reported.
A cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but officials think it may have started in the kitchen after the 66-lane alley closed for business around 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Fire destroys Nortel Lanes on Telegraph in Monroe. Fire Chief says it may have started in the kitchen, after-hours; no injuries. Customers, workers – even the guy who built it in 1961 – are telling stories @WWJ950 and https://t.co/NcwIrwPs9B and online at https://t.co/9bsne9SkBL. pic.twitter.com/zjxDATZtqD
— Mike Campbell (@reportermikec) December 5, 2018
Owner Richard Sieb was beside himself at the scene.
“I have no idea what could have possibly caused it. Everything was good, everything had been checked. I have absolutely no idea. There’s no reason,” he said. “The firewalls were set up all throughout, that’s why it’s hard for me to figure out just a simple kitchen fire — I can’t see where that could possibly even end up like this.”