Fire breaks out at Oakland County golf club, burning all carts

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

White Lake Township — A fire broke out at the Brentwood Golf Club and Banquet Hall early Saturday morning, destroying its fleet of carts but leaving employees and golf courses unharmed.

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"The golf operations crew wasn't even in yet," said JerryDomeneck, Brentwood's general manager on Sunday. "One of the maintenance crew heard some pops and saw smoke in the distance towards the clubhouse area. He called the superintendent, who called 911." 

A fire engulfed Brentwood Golf Club & Banquet Hall's cart center, destroying the building and the 80 golf carts within.

Barbie Graham Livezey, who lives near the golf club, was letting her puppy out when the fire broke out. 

"I saw the smoke and I thought they were gun shots that I heard," said Livezey. "It was unsettling." 

Within 25 minutes, the 4,320-square-foot cart center which held 80 golf carts and the club's beverage cart, alongside other equipment and machinery, was engulfed in flames, said Domeneck. 

Ten of the carts had been rentals Brentwood acquired in June when it became apparent that there was much more demand for golf this year, which the 70 golf carts they owned could not sustain. 

"It's because of the pandemic. A year and a half ago, one of the first things to reopen were outdoor activities. And golf was at the top of the list," said Domeneck, who estimated that around 4,000 rounds of golf are played every month in the summer.

He added that the recent privatization —where people need a membership to play— of a nearby golf club left many players "displaced" but was a "benefit" for Brentwood, which is open to the anyone who wants to play and pay the fee. 

The White Lake Fire Department was on the scene about 10 minutes after the crewmember noticed the fire, according to Domeneck, who said that they "did what they could" but some complications made containing the fire more difficult. 

"They were very cognizant of any runoff with the battery acid," said Domeneck. "They didn't want to use too much water because they did not want to contaminate any of the groundwater or have water go in the storm sewers."

A fire engulfed Brentwood Golf Club & Banquet Hall's cart center, destroying the building and the 80 golf carts within.

The superintendent was then able to get some sand using a backhoe and create a berm area around the burning building to stop any runoff from the fire. Once the flames were under control, added Domeneck, the firefighters used foam to coat the site. 

The cause and source of the fire remain unknown, and an investigation into its origin is underway. The club is currently trying to inventory all the contents of the building, and plan to meet with their insurance company on Monday.

The club hopes to limit the interruption to their activities as much as possible, and want to resume in some capacity this week. Domeneck said he was relieved because the fire could have done much more damage than it did. 

"No one was hurt, that's the biggest thing. Everyone's okay," he said. "It was stuff that was damaged, it was equipment and that can be replaced. So we're gonna pick up and move along as quickly as we can."