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61MACKBR1

1970 Central Lanes Bowling Alley Fire - Yonkers, NY (Looking for Information)

16 posts in this topic

I am looking to see if any member of EMTBravo.net and/or a current or former member of the Yonkers Fire Department, can provide any information related to the historical Summer of 1970's fire at the Central Lanes Bowling Alley in Yonkers New York? Information such as theh run log of responding apparatus from both Yonkers (1st Alarm, 2nd Alarm, 3rd Alarm, 4th Alarm, General Alarm), as well as of the mutual aid companies who responded from neighboring communities. Any photos that also could be provided would be great as well.

This incident is sometimes refered to being one of the top 5 historical fires in the history of the Yonkers FIre Department (along with the Saw Mill River Road Carpet Factory Fire, the Bronx River Road Apartment Building Fire, and the North Broadway Apartment Buiding Fire). Central Park Avenue was closed (both ways) for over 7 hours as fireman fought that battle. If my memory serves me correctly, Arson was determined to be the factor for the fire.

Much thanks to all who might be able to help

sfrd18 likes this

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I believe it was the summer of 1969 and it was arson about three in the afternoon.

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Where was it located? Where Raymour and Flannigan is now? (former Bowling alley near CPA and Tuck)

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Just north of PC Richards, the lanes were just finished being oiled.

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I know a retired YFD member who got on the job in '68. I believe he went to this job. The next time I see him, I'll ask him about it.

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Thank SRFD18. You can PM mW if you want as well

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No problem, 61MACKBR1. He worked on Engine 1, Rescue 1, Truck 5, and Ladder 70 during his career. I believe he was assigned to Engine 1 at the time of this fire. I'll talk to him and find out.

x4093k and x635 like this

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Thanks. Wow. He worked on Engine 1. That's a piece of YFD history. (My late uncle worked on Truck 3 and Truck 6)

No problem, 61MACKBR1. He worked on Engine 1, Rescue 1, Truck 5, and Ladder 70 during his career. I believe he was assigned to Engine 1 at the time of this fire. I'll talk to him and find out.

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I remember that fire, could be seen from the Scarsdale and White Plains area

x635 likes this

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I remember that fire, could be seen from the Scarsdale and White Plains area

Yes, you could see the smoke all the way up Central Park Avenue around the 4 corners section in Hartsdale. I was about 13 years old at the time (I have found that the actual date was July 3, 1968) and was coming down Central Park Avenue from Hartsdale with my mother and we were deverted on CPA, I think at the Yonkers boarder, because of the fire.

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The bowling alley is certainly well remembered in the bowling world.

"[Central Lanes] just a short drive north of New York City swarmed with money and matches whose legends no main event in Vegas will ever outlive, a place where Jeff Kitter bowled, future Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia for $2,000 a game equipped with nothing but a 10-pound ball and two fingers as Johnny used only his thumb, a place where you always knew you could find a black jack game out back whenever you had no match inside....[in those days, the 1960s] everything was closed on Sunday, so when you went to Central Lanes on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the town was desolate. You would drive up Central Avenue - the bowling alley was on it - nothing else was open. There wasn't a delicatessen open, there were no supermarkets. You were living in an era where there were four or five TV stations and only a handful of people had color TVs and cars didn't have air conditioning," Kitter recalls. "But the first time I went to Central Lanes it was five o'clock on a Sunday morning, I took the first bus up Central Avenue and the whole town was desolate, but I got off the bus and the whole parking lot of Central Lanes was packed, and right away I had this strange feeling, like 'What are all these people doing at five o'clock in the morning at a bowling alley?..."

"The anniversary of the day two tricksters started a fire in a utility closet of Central Lanes and inadvertently burned it to the ground is upon us..."

Edited by tommyguy
x635 likes this

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A student from Roosevelt started a small "prank" fire in a closet somewhere in this bowling alley and it went out of control and the rest is history.

He was arrested and charged with arson. I saw an article about this on library microfilm a few years ago and I think it happened in the summer of 1968... I do not remember the exact date and there is no Herald Statesman index. BUT check the hard copy index for the NY Times which hopefully ran a piece about this fire. And I believe two other retail tenants were destroyed. One was a lighting store and the other was a cafe/saloon. This all occured opposite Kohl's.

x635 likes this

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P.S.--The Jewish Community Center arson in the mid 1960's might also be one of the worst fires in Yonkers history.

It was located next to the present YPD HQ on S. Broadway. Might have occured in 1965??

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I am a yfd dispatcher. go to www.fultonhistory.com (its an old newspaper web site) Type in central lanes and you will be able to look at the old Herald Statesman. (Yonkers newpaper). The Fire took place on Tuesbday July 2, 1968 at 3PM There was an arrest for arson. Those articles will be there.

tommyguy, x635 and 210 like this

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Yes there are two results that come up pretty quickly, towards the top of the list. The 'day of the fire' story -- a passerby reported it by stopping at Station 14 -- and a followup story detailing the arrest of twenty-year-old Steven Branda charged with arson.

Yonkers Fire Dept. Chief Andrew Gerlock was mentioned several times as being the IC. I was growing up in White Plains at the time of this fire but I recall seeing Chief Gerlock's name in the newspapers occasionally.

Thanks yfd95. Very nice! I live in Yonkers now and I'm very interested in the city's history.

x635 likes this

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Yes, thanks YFD95

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