IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Riverside Bowling Alley practice burn offers invaluable training for three agencies

April 30, 2012

Riverside Bowling Alley practice burn on March 24 (photo Martha Martin)













The Riverside Bowling alley, located at 3010 NE 3rd Ave. in Camas,  went up in flames on Saturday, March 24,

Fire fighters caught in the spray of water hoses (photo Martha Martin)

as hundreds of people looked on. Three fire districts, East County Fire & Rescue, Camas, and Washougal,  took part in the all-day practice burn, setting several interior fires, and then igniting one last fire, which demolished the building.

This is old news in-so-far as the practice burn received lots of coverage.  However, there were other activities occurring around the area that you may have missed.

Camas & Washougal Fire Fighters set up practice burns in the bowling alley building. Chief Swinhart,3rd from right, was Incident Commander (photo Martha Martin)

The major activity centered around the Camas and Washougal firefighters who were using the practice burn to improve their skills.  Camas Fire Chief Nick Swinhart was the Incident Commander directing the fire activities.

Tower hose (photo Martha Martin)






As fire hoses were aimed at the flames, the crowd sometimes was the recipient of a spray of water as the wind blew it in their direction, and power lines were protected from the fire.   Water was sprayed from the tower (tall ladder attached to a rig) on one main engine, which was manned from below by one fire fighter.

Rick Knapp, ECFR volunteer assists fire fighters (photo Martha Martin)

East County Fire & Rescue provided their Rehabilitation Bus, which provided much needed hydration and food, as well as a place to sit and rest, and wipe down smokey faces with provided wash cloths.  The Rehab bus team included Rick and Paula Knapp, both volunteers from ECFR.

The burn brought hundreds of people from the community to watch, take pictures, and avoid the dense smoke that developed during the burn.  People lined 3rd street north of the burn, and crowded into the skate park west of the area.  Smoke eventually forced those in the skate park to move.

People watching the bowling alley burn (photo Martha Martin)

One on-looker, who identified herself as Tracey Fine, said she was the granddaughter of previous owners of the Riverside Bowling Alley.  She talked about working as a pin setter, and helping to serve food when the bowling alley was in business.

Firefighters found three old bowling pins in the building and laid them in the parking lot before the burns began.  One of these was given to Tracey as a memento.   She said she was thrilled to have it.

Tracy Fine with her prized bowling pin (photo Martha Martin)

Local government officials also attended, watching the activities.  Mayor Sean Guard, and council members Connie Jo Freeman and Paul Greenlee from Washougal had ringside seats.  Camas Mayor Scott Higgins and council member Linda Dietzman joined them.

Riverside Bowl fully Engulfed (photo Martha Martin)

The burn itself was fairly spectacular.  Toward the end, two round windows near the entrance were lit from the inside as if two eyes were watching the crowd.  The metal pin-setting machines were some of the last


vestiges to remain as the wood in the structure combusted.

Bowling Alley remnants (photo Martha Martin)

In the end, there was a gaping hole where the basement had been, and the pile was left to smolder for about one week.

Currently the hole has been filled and leveled.

No plans have been divulged regarding development of the vacant property, which is currently owned by Marwan and Jacqueline Bahu, and Howard and Lorena Reser.

What would you hope would be built on this property right next to the Washougal River?