Firefighters battling blaze in Bellflower

LA TIMES • OCTOBER 8, 2010 |  1:42 PM

Dozens of firefighters were on the scene at a former bowling alley in Bellflower on Friday, battling a blaze that was sending plumes of black smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

Firefighters received a call about 12:30 p.m. about a fire at the former Clark Bowling Center in the 9300 block of Alondra Boulevard near the 91 Freeway, said Frederic Stowers, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Flames were already consuming the building when they arrived, he said. Ten engines and two fire trucks were fighting the fire, officials said.

No one has been hurt, and the cause of the fire is unknown, Stowers said.

“It hasn’t hit us yet. We’re pretty safe right now,” said a woman answering the phone at the Carpet 4U store next door.Pam Ngo, owner of Cali Nails a few doors down from the building, said she’s seen people she believed were homeless using the building.

“They live inside, and they cook. That’s why they make a fire,” Ngo said. “I’ve seen a lot of people eating out in back. They also take out the gate, and they come in and out.”

[Updated at 4:35 p.m.: The building dates to 1957, when it opened as Clark Center Bowl, according to a Bellflower city report. The bowling alley closed in 1999 and was converted to Club Alondra, a dancing and banquet hall. The hall closed for good in 2003.

In 2007, it was purchased by Universal Properties, a Los Angeles developer that intended to redevelop it into a commercial center called Alondra Gardens. The city approved the center, but when the economy went into recession, Universal put the project on hold.

According to the report, “on multiple occasions, and as recently at July 2010, the City of Bellflower had taken steps to contact the owner of the property to secure the building against intrusions.”

Universal Properties did not return a Times call requesting comment.]

— Sam Quinones

Photo: Los Angeles County firefighters spray water on the former Clark Bowling Center in Bellflower. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times