Massive fire in downtown Pulaski


PULASKI – Electricity is back on to part of the 100 block of Pulaski Street in downtown Pulaski.

The only evidence that something major took place here nearly 24 ago are the large orange road blocks, blocking the intersection at West Pulaski and St. Augustine Drive.

According to officials, the fire broke out last night around 11:30 at Wood Lanes bowling alley, in Pulaski, located at 109 West Pulaski Street.

Fire officials say the only preliminary information they had was black smoke was coming from the building. When crews arrived on scene, fire was coming through the front window and knew it was something serious.

“We were met with flames at the top of the stairs so we went to an exterior attack from that and after there,” said Pulaski Tri-County Fire Chief Randy Wichlacz. “It just snowballed.”

Wichlacz says the fire spread easily through the old buildings, jumping from roof to roof.

Pulaski fire activated the MABAS system, or mutual aid box alarm system, to help fight the fire.

“We had to call in tenders with water into the area simply because we didn’t have enough water,” said Wichlacz.

Firefighters battled the fire – and cold, potentially icy conditions – throughout the morning. Road salt was even brought out to keep the pools of water on the street from freezing over. Nearly 11 hours, 180 firefighters, more than 20 emergency agencies and 2 million gallons of water later, fire officials declared the fire was out and under control.

In the end, three buildings – the bowling alley, an apartment building and consignment store – are total losses. Two others, an insurance agency and vacant bar, suffered smoke and water damage.

Right now, government agencies are on their way to Pulaski to start their investigations.

Chief Wichlacz says West Pulaski Street will remain closed indefinitely until the investigation into the cause of the fire is concluded. He adds the reason state investigators are being brought in is because of the large scope of the damage – not because the fire is necessarily suspicious.

Two firefighters were injured in the initial stages of the blaze, one from Howard and the other from Pulaski. Those injuries were minor.

As for the future of downtown Pulaski, Village President Reed Woodward says they will rebuild.

“[We will] use whatever resources that are available to do whatever needs to be done to create a new downtown Pulaski,” said Woodward.

About 40 people were displaced from the block during the fire. All of the residents were able to escape safely. Those who have been displaced by the fire are being assisted by the American Red Cross.

If you would like to make a $10 donation to help the victims, text REDCROSS to 90999 or go to www.redcross.org for other ways to donate.

*** Red Cross Footnote: Of the 40 people evacuated most were able to go back to their residents. Six people were displaced from their homes and the Red Cross, at this time, is assisting four adults with their emergency needs."