Community Members Devastated After Oak Forest Bowl Destroyed in Fire

Paul Hamernick held his wife Amy on Saturday, devastated over the loss of Oak Forest Bowl where they first met 15 years ago. Their two daughters joined them and hugged them tightly.

“My youngest just finished her Saturday morning bowling here last week and got her very first trophies,” said Amy before breaking into tears. “She is really sad too.”

Years of memories, including the couple taking photos on the bowling center’s volleyball court on their wedding day, were reduced to rubble and ash after a fire destroyed the business.

The Oak Forest Fire Department was called to the three-alarm fire at 2:30 a.m. near South Cicero Avenue and 153rd Street. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but officials said the building was a total loss.

“It was a home away from home for us,” said Hamernick.

Paul said he was bowling the night before the fire erupted.

“I couldn’t believe it, even looking now I still can’t believe it just 12 hours ago we were spending Friday night after a week of work laying back having fun, bowling chilling,” he said.

Many in the community enjoyed coming to a decades-old place.

“I have been bowling here since I been 10 years old, and I grew up here, it is just devastating,” said bowler Mike Seebock.

“It is a fixture of the community,” said Laurelee Lacey, another patron of Oak Forest Bowl.

The Hamernicks took a piece of memento— a rock from the rubble– in their hands with them as they wait to see what becomes of their home away from home.

“Hopefully It comes back soon,” cried Amy.

The owner of Oak Forest Bowl was at a loss for words earlier when NBC 5 went to his house. Tearfully, he declined to comment.

At this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation. It’s also unknown if the owner will rebuild.

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