Damages top $1M in Stevinson Ranch Club House fire

July 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cal Fire and Merced County Fire crews are trying to figure out what sparked the blaze at a popular and well known North Valley Golf Club.

The flames broke out early Thursday morning, at the Stevinson Ranch Club House.

The damages are estimated at more than a million dollars, given the expensive and high end merchandise inside the shop and clubhouse. While the office was damaged; the flames didn't touch some of the irreplaceable items inside that room.

Cell phone video captured the flames as they ripped through the kitchen and then spread through the rest of the clubhouse at Stevinson Ranch.

For Stevinson Ranch owner George Kelley, it was like watching his family home burn. "This is my baby and I created this, you know -- wonderful facility, and I've got a lot of memorabilia in there and inventory and merchandise -- and files."

Early Thursday morning, the burglar and smoke alarm were both sounding off. Initially, crews thought there might have been a break-in; until they saw the heavy smoke and flames.

Battalion Chief Gabriel Santos says fighting the fire was like crawling through a blazing maze. "It was difficult to gain access to the rear portion of it as we're gaining access through the kitchen there were other compartmental areas that were igniting."

Hours after the fire, crews had to use thermal imaging cameras to make sure nothing was re-igniting. All this, while golfers teed up, as the well-known course itself was not affected.

Also not affected were those items inside the clubhouse office. "I have my memories are still intact I have that information, I have my photos, I've got my pictures of my family those things are irreplaceable."

Now Kelley says, they're starting to think about how to rebuild. He does say, even though his calendar is full of summer weddings and events, nothing will have to be cancelled, or rescheduled. "I want to encourage all of your viewers to come out and continue to visit us and play golf because the golf course is in fantastic shape."

At this point, fire crews do not believe that this fire was suspicious, and are focusing their investigation on the kitchen area which is where the fire appeared to have started.


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