Sheriff: Workers maybe sparked country club fire with torch

Mar 16, 2022, 11:42 PM | Updated: Mar 17, 2022, 11:46 am
Firefighters battle a fire at the Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Thursday,...

Firefighters battle a fire at the Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. A devastating fire swept through the iconic clubhouse at the suburban Detroit golf course that is one of Michigan's most exclusive clubs and the site of many professional tournaments. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

(David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Surveillance camera footage shows maintenance workers using a propane torch prior to a blaze that destroyed a century-old clubhouse at a suburban Detroit country club, authorities said Thursday.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the Oakland Hills Country Club has estimated the loss of the clubhouse at about $80 million. The club has hosted the Ryder Cup and other major golf tournaments.

The video footage found on a server in a water-logged basement of the clubhouse appears to show the workers attempting to douse a small fire in a wall using a garden hose on Feb. 17, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said during a news conference.

It also shows firefighters later breaking through the same wall only to be greeted by flame and heavy smoke.

The workers had been using the torch to warm rubber flashing as part of a waterproofing process, Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy said Thursday.

Investigators believe the footage shows the primary cause of the fire, but are still trying to determine other contributory factors, Bouchard said.

“That takes time,” Bouchard said. “We hope to have a preliminary finding sometime in April, but the complete and totality may take a year.”

Bouchard did not talk about the possibility of criminal charges.

The blaze ripped through the roof of the structure, which was built in 1922. It apparently spread to the clubhouse’s attic space and then quickly throughout much of the building. No one was hurt.

Investigators later recovered two propane tanks, a propane heater and a propane torch.

Club officials have said the clubhouse will be rebuilt.

Oakland Hills opened in 1916 and has hosted six U.S. Opens. Ben Hogan won it in 1951.

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won the U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills. Gary Player won the 1972 PGA Championship. Europe won the Ryder Cup there in 2004, and Padraig Harrington became the first Irishman to win the PGA Championship in 2018.

The club has two courses. The more famous South course recently underwent a $12 million renovation project with hopes of landing more majors. It recently was awarded the U.S. Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Iowa State linebacker O'Rien Vance (34) pressures Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) during the f...
Associated Press

College Football Picks: All eyes on … Lawrence, Kansas!

So, about that game of the year … The much-anticipated matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama, after an offseason feud between the team’s championship-winning coaches, is not nearly as interesting as expected. Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies did upset Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in a similar spot last year. Texas A&M was unranked with two losses when […]
1 day ago
Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr., works out during practice at the team's NFL ...
Associated Press

Commanders’ Robinson practices for 1st time since shooting

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Brian Robinson Jr. is back practicing with the Washington Commanders for the first time since being shot in an attempted robbery. The rookie running back returned to the practice field Wednesday, just over five weeks since the shooting. He could play as soon as Sunday against Tennessee, but neither Robinson nor […]
1 day ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, left, hits a solo home, his 62nd of the season, in front of Texas Ra...
Associated Press

Judge out of Yankees starting lineup for finale after No. 62

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge isn’t in the starting lineup for New York’s regular-season finale Wednesday, a day after his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League single-season record. When Judge homered in the first inning Tuesday night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) stands on the field during an NFL football...
Associated Press

Browns’ All-Pro Garrett back practicing after car accident

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since being injured in a car accident last week, when he lost control of his Porsche while speeding. Garrett didn’t play in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons while he recovered from a sprained shoulder, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

LIV Golf trying to get world ranking points via small tour

LIV Golf’s latest bid to get world ranking points is by aligning itself with a little-known tour that offers $75,000 purses and has not held a tournament since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The MENA Tour — Middle East and North Africa — announced Wednesday a strategic alliance that will result in MENA sanctioning LIV […]
1 day ago
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to throw during the first half of an NFL footba...
Associated Press

Pro Picks leans toward Broncos to kick off Week 5

A month into the season, it’s clear Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan are still adjusting to their new teams. The star quarterbacks go head-to-head this week on Thursday night when Wilson and the Denver Broncos (2-2) host Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1). “I think here, the transition has been great,” Wilson said. “I can’t […]
1 day ago
Sheriff: Workers maybe sparked country club fire with torch