Plaza Lanes

The Des Moines bowling alley that hosts the Iowa High School State Bowling Tournament was destroyed by fire this morning.

Firefighters were sent to Plaza Lanes on Des Moines’ west side just after 5 a.m. Des Moines Fire Department spokesperson Brian O’Keefe said the fire spread quickly and force crews to back off.

“Within about 20 minutes, the roof collapsed,” O’Keefe said. “It became a very dangerous situation, so we went into a defensive type of fire attack.” No one was inside the bowling alley at the time and no one was injured.”We’ve had the business owner on site and visited with the bartender who closed the place, so no one was known to be in there prior to our arrival,” O’Keefe said.

Aerial trucks pour water on Plaza Lanes.

Plaza Lanes has served as the site of the Iowa High School State Bowling Tournament for the past 15 years. The bowling alley’s owners, in an email to customers, said they are ‘absolutely heartbroken’ but plan to rebuild.

Plaza Lanes opened in 1957 and quickly became a Des Moines landmark, primarily for a large neon lighted display showing a bowler rolling a ball into pins.

Another large fire broke out on the north side of Des Moines just before 6 a.m. Two people were injured in the fire in an apartment building. O’Keefe said because most firefighters were at Plaza Lanes, an ambulance crew was the first on the scene.

“Fortunately, the medic crews heard some pounding noises and they pulled a piece of plywood off a section of one of the houses to get the two people out. They were transported to local hospitals,” O’Keefe said. The causes of both fires are under investigation.

(Photos courtesy of the Des Moines Fire Department)