Holland, MI Blowling Lanes Fire, Mar 1962



A Holland man died today after he was injured while helping firemen extinguish a spectacular $200,000 fire at the Northland Lanes bowling alleyon North River Ave.
JOHN TEUSINK, 29, of 13988 Ridgewood Dr., was buried under a pile of bricks when an explosion caused a portion of the front wall of the bowling alley to fall.
TEUSINK was rushed to Holland Hospital where he died of head injuries at 5:05 a.m.
Cause of the costly blaze, which was discovered shortly after 1 a.m. was not immediately determined. The fornt of the sprawling one-story concrete block and steel building was burning when the fire was discovered.
Holland Township firemen said TEUSINK had stopped at the scene of the blaze and offered to aid firemen in putting out the fire. He was holding a hose when the front wall of the building collapsed on him.
Ottawa County deputy Robert Dykstra said he had been standing near TEUSINK and had walked away from the burning building only seconds before the wall fell.
A Holland Township fireman, standing in the main entrance of the bowling alley, was saved from injury when the wall collapsed, by a small roof over the entrance which caught the falling bricks.
Firemen said the water had been turned off from the hose TEUSINK was using and a second hose at the main entrance was being used when the explosion occurred. TEUSINK had been standing about 30 feet north of the entrance.
The blast which ripped out the portion of the front wall occurred at the front of the building near a gas heating unit. Firemen said the unit may have exploded or that intense heat may have caused the wall to buckle and fall.
The fire was burning with full fury when it was discovered Holland Township Fire Marshal Andrew Westenbroek said an unidentified man coming home from work spotted the blaze and drove to a nearby telephone to summon firemen.
Ottawa County deputies reported that three women reported the fire at the Sheriff Department branch across the River Ave. from Northland Lanes, at practically the same time the passing motorist reported the blaze.
Deputies said they had driven past the bowling alley at 1 a.m. and saw no signs of fire. Dykstra said he looked into the front door at an illuminated clock at the inside rear of the building and saw nothing unusual.
Dykstra said he went to the branch office, and about 15 minutes later the women reported that the front of the bowling alley was ablaze. Dykstra radioed the Sheriff's Office to summon firemen.
No one was in the building when the fire was discovered. All bowlers had left the premises by 11:15 p.m., according to Jacob Essenburg, Jr., who, along with a brother and three sisters, owned Northland Lanes.
Essenburg, who was the last to leave the bowling alley, said he left about 11:30 p.m. He said he drove past the building again between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. and looked inside but saw nothing unusual. Essenburg did not go into the building then.
Essenburg estimated the loss at $200,000. He said the loss was partially covered by insurance. He had no idea what could have caused the fire.

Holland Evening Sentinel Michigan 1962-03-09