Burlington Fire Chief Steven Yetman tucked into a plate of buffalo chicken before putting on a pair of bowling shoes to celebrate the grand opening of the new Kings Bowl America in Burlington. He and his fellow firefighters were having a great time at the glossy, retro-style restaurant and bowling alley, but Yetman couldn’t help reminiscing about the events of last April that brought them there that day.
“It looks a little different than the last time we were here,” Yetman says.
That’s because the last time Yetman and his colleagues were at Kings it was to put out a massive, three-alarm fire that consumed the building just weeks before it was supposed to open.
“I could see it from the highway,” Yetman remembers. “There was just so much fire.” He says 45-50 firefighters responded to the fire, which burned for days and made the roof collapse in three different spots. Detectives never determined how the fire started; it was too fast and widespread, says Doug Warner, director of marketing and business developments for Kings Bowl America.
“The only thing they could save was the foundation,” Warner says. As a result, the company had to rebuild nearly from scratch.
Now, nine months later, Kings Bowl America has finally opened its Burlington location, and it looks exactly the same as did before the fire, except for one thing: A bronzed brick from the original building will be on display in the new venue to commemorate the fire and the brave firefighters who fought it.
“They did such a great job. Things could have gone a lot worse. They fought the fire through the night and nobody was hurt,” says Warner.
Kings Bowl America invited the firefighters to a special friends and family event the day before the official opening and presented them with the brick to say thank you.
“It feels very good,” Yetman says. “We don’t do our job for thanks, but it’s nice when someone recognizes us.”