CASCADE, Iowa — An early-morning fire Thursday severely damaged a popular bowling alley and restaurant in Cascade, but its owner already is vowing to reopen.

“We’re rebuilding as soon as possible,” said Dave Petra. “The community has been great to us, and I’m going to be good to them, too.”

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at Cascade Lanes & Lounge and Happy Joe’s Pizza on First Avenue East at about 2:40 a.m. Thursday. No one was in the structure at that time.

“When we arrived on scene, it was pretty much fully involved on the inside of the structure,” said Cascade Fire Chief Denny Green, referring to the size of the fire. “Most of the fire was actually up in the attic space, but there was severe smoke and heat damage throughout.”

About four hours after firefighters responded, black smoke stains ringed the upper, outside walls of the building. The smell of smoke lingered around the structure. Doors were opened as firefighters used ventilation equipment to clear the smoke from the building’s charred insides.

“It’s shocking for all of us,” said Petra, who has owned Cascade Lanes for 10 years.

Green said about 20 members of his department responded to the fire. Firefighters from Bernard, Farley and Monticello assisted.

“Once we gained access, we were able to get a pretty quick knockdown,” he said. “It was probably 20 minutes to a half-hour for us to get all the major fire hot spots put out.”

Green said he considers the structure to be a total loss.

Petra said he walked through the smoldering structure with an assistant fire chief. They thought the fire might have started in an electrical panel. Petra said the structure’s electrical system was replaced within the past four years.

Fire crews finally cleared the scene at about 1:30 p.m. An investigator with the state fire marshal division had been by to check out the scene.

“(The cause of the fire) is still undetermined,” Green said. “It’s under investigation.”

Brian Meyer, owner of Legacy Lanes in nearby Monticello, said Thursday afternoon that he already has been contacted by people who participated in leagues in Cascade. He said he will do what he can to accommodate those displaced bowlers.

“You want to offer those folks a home, a temporary home, if that’s how it is,” Meyer said. “We’ll kind of hold the place (for Cascade Lanes).”

Meyer, who coaches Monticello High School’s bowling team, said he already reached out to his counterpart in Cascade. Student bowlers from the neighboring community are welcome to use the Monticello facility for meets and practices, Meyer said.

“My whole perspective on this is, we need to keep people bowling,” he said. “If people quit because their local (bowling alley) is down, they don’t start back up.”

Legacy Lanes and Cascade Lanes are part of a group that shares local tournaments.

“We’ve been working with them for a lot of years,” Meyer said. “We sure hate to see this happen.”

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