Rifle arson fires destroy two businesses
Rifle residents were shocked to wake up on Labor Day morning, Sept. 5, to learn that two longtime local businesses had burned to the ground due to a fire police believe was caused by arson.The first fire was reported to emergency dispatch shortly after 3 a.m. at the Rifle Fireside Lanes in north Rifle. A little after 4:30 a.m. an explosion and fire were reported at the Amoco service station in the 100 block of Railroad Avenue.
Both the bowling alley and the gas station were destroyed.Two other fires – one at a condominium complex at 26th Street and Meadow Circle and another at the Mi Hacienda Restaurant near Kentucky Fried Chicken in north Rifle- were also reported during the time in between. Those fires were quickly extinguished and are also believed to be acts of arson.
Damage from the fires was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.Jack and Ava Bowles, owners of the bowling alley, and David Valencia, owner of the Amoco station, later both said they intended to rebuild in 2006.
Four months later, police have no suspects and are still working on leads as they come in, according to Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner.A $15,000 reward is also being offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.- Heidi Rice
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