Biker club president: Robbery prompted devastating fire

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The chapter president of a motorcycle club whose building was destroyed in an early morning blaze in Lyon Township, said he believes it was prompted by a failed robbery attempt.

ATF agents use a dog to sniff through the fire at the Scorpions Motorcycle Club.***Fire at the Scorpions Motorcycle Club. South Lyon, Mi. September 22, 2017, (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News)

“They tried to get our big safe,” said Chris Page, chapter president of the Scorpions Motorcycle Club on Milford Road, just north of 11 Mile. “They worked on it for awhile and then gave up.”

Page said a Bobcat tractor was used to access the safe, which was kept in an upstairs loft area.

Page said the chapter of 34 members held a party with about 3,000 attendees on Sept. 9. Guests came from as far away as Indiana and Ohio.

“Somebody at the party saw what we were doing and thought we had all the money in the safe and tried to take it,” he said.

Page said there have been no motorcycle club feuds.

“Everybody’s friendly,” he said. “We get along with all the clubs. All the neighbors all like us. We try to keep quiet. We have a couple parties here and there. We’re not at war with anybody.”

A fire investigation unit from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department remained in the scene Friday afternoon as well as investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It took about three hours for firefighters to extinguish the fire.

The Lyon Township Fire Department received a call around 6:14 a.m. for a fire at the Scorpions Motorcycle Club, said Fire Chief Ken Van Sparrentak.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire.

When fire crews arrived, they found flames ranging 12 to 15 feet high coming from the rear clubhouse portion of the building, which Van Sparrentak described as a 2,000-square-foot, residential-style building.

There were no injuries. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion while battling the blaze and was treated by paramedics at the scene, Van Sparrentak said.

The walls and roof of the clubhouse collapsed and a kitchen and office in front suffered some damage. Van Sparrentak considers the building a total loss.

Page said the club plans to clean the mess up and build a larger clubhouse. The building was the chapter’s home since it was established in 1999.

“The only sad thing is the memorabilia,” Page said, his voice breaking. “We had guys that passed away, pictures and colors. That’s all I care about. Other than that, it’s just a building.”

It was the second time in less than a week a motorcycle club was destroyed by fire. On Wednesday, the Street Royalty Motorcycle Club on Dexter in the west side of Detroit was leveled by a fire.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said Friday the investigation is leaning toward a gas leak causing the fire.

“That seems to be the way things are pointing,” he said. “I can’t confirm that because the investigators are still working on it. Initial companies smelled gas when they got there. At this particular point, that’s a large possibility.”

The Lyon Township Fire Department received assistance from fire departments from South Lyon, Novi, Milford and Green Oak Township.

Milford Road, between 11 and 12 Mile roads, was closed Friday morning.


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