Officials provide update on Oakland Hills fire

Oakland Hills Fire
Posted at 11:25 AM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 14:01:14-04

(WXYZ) — Officials in Oakland County have provided an update on the massive fire that destroyed the clubhouse at Oakland Hills Country Club last month.

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Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy, Bloomfield Township Fire Marshal Peter Vlahos, and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Fire Investigator Thomas Bisio will speak at the update.

The clubhouse went up in flames on Feb. 17, causing major damage to the clubhouse. Crews were on scene for nearly an entire day putting out the fire and hotspots. The tennis building, pro shop, golf operations building and golf maintenance facility were not damaged in the fire, and the 2022 golf season is expected to be unaffected.

Days after the fire, Oakland Hills President Rick Palmer said they were going to build a replica of the historic clubhouse, which was nearly 100 years old.

Right now, it's not clear how long a rebuild would take, but according to Palmer, they are making plans for what 2022 and 2023 look like in terms of a temporary clubhouse, and it could even go into 2024. The United States Golf Association has also offered help and the contractor they use for temporary setup for USGA events.

"We want to move quickly but we want to move slowly, too, in order to move fast," Palmer said. "We're really making not just a 2022 decision, but a 2023 and potentially 2024 decision on the process."

Officials were on scene for an investigation last month. It was also reported that memorabilia inside the clubhouse was saved by firefighters and Oakland Hills workers and members. According to Palmer, firefighters found a window they could use and asked them where the memorabilia was.

According to Sheriff Bouchard during a press conference on Thursday, it looks like the fire was not intentional at this point of the investigation.

A surveillance video was reportedly recovered after the hard drive was found submerged in water in the basement following the fire.

The video shows maintenance crews later trying to use a hose to get rid of the flames once they were discovered — and later firefighters arrived at the scene.

The USGA is also expected to make a "major announcement" next week and the club is expected to land a handful of USGA championships, including multiple U.S. Opens. It hasn't hosted a major championship since the 2008 PGA Championship and a USGA event since the 2016 U.S. Amateur.