Community loss

Fire destroys Burnt Hills bowling alley

January 12, 2014
Updated 11:11 p.m.
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Community loss

Burnt Hill Lanes is nothing but cinder and ash after a blaze razed the building early Sunday morning. Here, Saratoga County Fire servicemen shovel through the debris.
Burnt Hill Lanes is nothing but cinder and ash after a blaze razed the building early Sunday morning. Here, Saratoga County Fire servicemen shovel through the debris.

— Dozens of firefighters worked through the early hours Sunday morning to put out a raging fire that reduced Burnt Hills Lanes to rubble.

It took 50 to 75 firefighters from five departments three hours to get the blaze under control, according to Burnt Hills Fire Chief Steve Peterson.

“The call came in at 1:27 and reported flames going through the roof, and that was true when I got here,” he said.

According to the bowling alley’s website, the establishment stayed open until 1 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

At 10 a.m., all that remained standing were portions of the building’s exterior brick walls, one of them deemed unstable. All were knocked down later in the day.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but Peterson speculated that it started in the bar or kitchen area. Crews were digging through the smoking ruins Sunday morning, looking for clues.

Peterson said there were no injuries associated with the fire.

Burnt Hills Lanes proprietor Michael Scaccia, who also operates Boulevard Bowl in Schenectady, said it’s too soon to know if rebuilding is a possibility.

Scaccia, who was helping customers and bowling a bit himself at Boulevard Bowl later Sunday morning, praised the Burnt Hills community for being very supportive of him since his purchase of Burnt Hills Lanes.

“If we can rebuild, I’d love to,” he said.

Scaccia and his wife, Tara, purchased Burnt Hills Lanes in 2010 and completed extensive renovations on the building.

The 24-lane bowling alley was established in 1959 by Daniel and Ruth Schiavo. In 1984, it was purchased by a group headed by Bill Knox.

In 1998, Dave Barno took the helm. The business was closed in the spring of 2010 and reopened by the Scaccias in December of that same year.

Town Councilman William Goslin was at the fire scene Sunday morning. He expressed sadness over the loss of the business.

“It’s really a hit to the community, I think, because it’s a gathering place,” he said. “With the economy the way it is, and the economy in Burnt Hills in general, this was a key gathering point and a key business in our community that we’re going to miss.”

Norman Olsen of Ballston Lake, who said he was once part owner of the bowling alley, agreed that its destruction is a great loss.

“It’s something that the community needed,” he said in a phone interview.

Eighteen-year-old Stefanie Brackett, a senior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, heard about the fire on Facebook and came to see the damage in person Sunday morning.

Her father, Jay Brackett, ran the pro shop at Burnt Hills Lanes, with Jack Golinski.

Stefanie is a member of the BH-BL High School bowling team, which competed at Burnt Hills Lanes.

The nearby high school sent gym classes to the bowling alley for years.

“All my trophies and everything were in there. I made a little plaque thing for them when I was younger and it’s in there, too,” she said, gazing at the charred remains of the building.

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January 12, 2014
7:31 a.m.
hansonfamily says...

After all the work that Mike Scaccia, his family and his friends have put into this place, this is just sad to hear.

January 12, 2014
7:54 a.m.
Elizabeth says...

So many memories of fun times bowling there when I went to Burnt Hills schools. I knew the Schaivo family when they owned the place. Very sad news.

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