The clubhouse at Southampton’s storied National Golf Links of America was “significantly” damaged Wednesday by a roof top blaze possibly ignited by a spark from a worker’s saw, officials said.
“The bulk of the building was not damaged,” said Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town supervisor, who was briefed by the police.
Southampton Fire Department spokesman Don King said as many as 125 firefighters and emergency medical technicians responded to the fire, which was called in at 11:36 a.m. and contained by around 1:30 p.m.
“The damage was contained to a single story on the east side; it had significant damage done to it,” he said.
“It was really a very, very difficult operation because it was actually in the roofing area, and it is a stucco building,” King said. Firefighters had to use axes to reach the flames and the clubhouse was evacuated, he said.
Some firefighters, who arrived on the scene in about 10 minutes and came from East Hampton to East Quogue, suffered minor injuries that were treated at the scene, King said.
No officials with the golf course, considered one of the nation’s finest, responded to requests for comment. The course opened in 1911; noted golf architect C.B. Macdonald based its layout on its British predecessors.
“Obviously, it’s a very important building, and a very important part of the economy,” Schneiderman said.
He added: “A significant portion of the roof was damaged by the fire, and the water used to put out the fire caused some water damage to the second floor.”
Some club artifacts were “removed and preserved and not damaged,” he said.
Its collections included old prints and photographs, oil portraits of club presidents, a bronze statue of the founder in his golfing togs, and a rare collection of golf literature, Sports Illustrated reported in 1968.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, King said.
Wednesday’s breezes might have played a role in allowing it to spread.
“A construction worker who was doing work on the roof saw a spark, sparks coming off from a saw he was using to cut some metal up there, and the spark ignited a roof fire,” Schneiderman said.
“He went to get a fire extinguisher but the winds accelerated the fire [and] they called the fire department,” he said.
According to the golf club’s website, the private 18-hole course covers 253 acres along the Peconic Bay.
Golf Digest ranks the course No. 8 on its list of America’s 100 greatest golf courses.
With William Murphy