Fire badly damages Platteville bowling alley

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — A fire struck a Platteville bowling alley Saturday night while bowlers were occupying half of the facility’s 24 lanes.

“We actually had the glow bowling going on, so we had fog machines going — we didn’t really see (smoke),” said Joe Haack, owner of Pioneer Lanes Bar, Grill & Banquet Center.

The Platteville Fire Department received the call at 10:45 p.m. for a fire that began in the bowling alley’s attic. The blaze resulted in smoke and water damage to about half of the building. There were no injuries.

“There were 15 or so people there, but the fire being above the ceiling allowed all of the people to get out,” said Fire Chief Ryan Simmons.

He said the fire damage was limited to the building’s attic and roof.

“There was mostly smoke and water damage,” he said. “A lot of the water damage came from a water line that had melted through. We used 3,000 gallons of water, which is not a lot for a structure fire.”

Simmons said Benton and Cuba City fire departments provided mutual aid. Firefighters cleared the scene at 3:30 a.m.

Haack said his son first mentioned smelling smoke as the fire broke out.

“He looked around but couldn’t see anything,” Haack said. “I looked around and didn’t see anything, but when I went over to the far side of the building, the smell was very strong over there. I looked up in the attic, and that’s when I saw the fire. When I saw it, it looked like a large bonfire you would have. It escalated quickly — when I talked to the fire department, they said the fire was just rolling up there.”

Haack said he was waiting to speak with his insurance company on Monday to determine a monetary estimate of how much damage had been caused.

“It all depends on how much smoke damage there is,” he said. “That’s where the biggest problem is going to be.”

Water damage flooded a portion of the facility.

“There is water underneath the lanes,” Haack said. “More than likely, the lanes are done on this side of the building.”

Water also caused damage to carpeting and ceilings.

Simmons said fire officials continue to investigate the possible cause.

By midday today, Haack was on the phone in his darkened facility, reaching out to bowling alleys in Dickeyville, Lancaster and Mineral Point to find possible homes for the six bowling leagues that his facility hosted.

“I’ll see if there is any availability and then let the league owners know,” he said. “Some might still want to bowl. Some might not want to travel.”

Haack has owned Pioneer Lanes for two years after having served as manager for five years. The bowling alley employs about a dozen people.

“This year has been very rough,” Haack said. “We had a fundraiser that was supposed to be on the seventh of this month that I had to cancel because I had to close for 10 days because I had employees who tested positive (for COVID-19).”

Haack predicts it could take six months to a year to rebuild.

“It’s going to be a long, slow recovery, but we will rebuild,” he said.