Sheriff: Workers may have started country club fire with torch

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Video footage found on a server in a waterlogged basement of the clubhouse appears to show workers attempting to put out a small fire in a wall using a garden hose on February 17, a said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard at a press conference.

It also shows firefighters later crossing the same wall to be greeted by flames and thick smoke.

Workers had used the torch to warm rubber flashings as part of a waterproofing process, Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy said Thursday.

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

“It takes time,” Bouchard said. “We hope to have a preliminary conclusion sometime in April, but full and complete could take a year.”

Bouchard did not discuss the possibility of criminal charges.

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

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

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won the US Senior Open in 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 South’s most famous course recently underwent a $12 million renovation project in hopes of attracting more majors. She recently won the US Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042.

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