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Preston Bowling Alley Lost In Fire Was A Town Fixture

PRESTON, Minn. (WCCO) -- A fixture in a small Minnesota town is gone after a devastating fire.

It happened Friday in the town of Preston -- about 30 miles southeast of Rochester. Firefighters were called to the B&B Olympic Bowling Alley Friday morning. Investigators believe the fire started in the kitchen.

The owners say it was more than a bowling alley that was lost.

"It's the same two burners I've cooked on every day, seven days a week," B&B owner Shelley Hanson said.

Shelley's New Year's Day started like any other, cooking at the the B&B Olympic Bowl. This time when she stepped out of the kitchen, she knew something was wrong.

"There was kind of a glow in the kitchen, and I took off running," she said.

A small fire had started on the stove. Shelley tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher before calling 911.

"It just got out of hand," she said.

Her husband and co-owner Paul Hanson discovered the fire soon after.

"I saw the cloud of smoke," he said. "I knew right then and there it was way too late."

The fire quickly engulfed the building that's been around since the 1950s. Shelly and Paul have owned the alley, restaurant and bar for the last six years. Their kids also worked there.

"So many people without a job and a community without a restaurant and the bowling alley," Shelley said. "It's kind of everything we've dedicated our whole life to."

All that's left now is a charred frame of a building and a pile of ash and debris. Shelley and Paul say while no people were hurt in the fire, the loss will be felt by everyone who lives in the town of 1,300 people.

"When you see a Preston firefighter crying, you know it means more than our family," Paul said. "It's a whole community."

Firefighters are still investigating the exact cause of the fire. Shelly said they do have insurance but aren't sure if they'll be able to rebuild.

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