Oakland Hills fire investigation: Arson not suspected as sheriff gives update

It's been exactly one month since the Oakland Hills Country Club burned to the ground and the Oakland County Sheriff provided an update on the investigation on Thursday, saying the fire is not believed to have been intentionally set.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard spoke on Thursday, along with leaders from the Bloomfield Hills Fire Department about the investigation into what sparked the February 17 fire that destroyed the historic country club.

During the update, Bouchard released video that was salvaged from a surveillance camera from inside the clubhouse. It showed maintenance workers using a torch and then mistakenly starting a fire. He said the workers then used a garden hose to try to extinguish the flames. 

"They thought they had a small fire. They attempted to put it out. Then, I don’t know the minutes time in between when they first applied water until they realized they had a really big problem. We don’t have that chronological breakdown," said Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy.

The video showed the firefighters arriving later and cutting into the wall with an ax and being met with flames.

Bouchard said it doesn't appear the fire was intentional and said that the workers were installing rubber flashing. However, he stressed that the investigation is still underway.

"(We) can't rule anything out until you rule everything out," he said.

Court documents show that authorities had collected two propane tanks, a propane torch, and a propane heater on the day of the fire.

RELATED: Daylight reveals extent of Oakland Hills Country Club fire damage

It's believed the fire started behind a rear wall that was under construction. Due to the location of the origin, it's believed to have caused two different unique problems: it prevented crews from finding the source quickly and impeding the facility's sprinkler system from putting it out.

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Fire Marshal Peter Vlahos also told investigators that workers at Oakland Hills - which has since been ruled a total loss and will need to be rebuilt - had been using a propane torch and heater near the building before the fire was discovered.

MORE: Oakland Hills Country Club rebuild will take years, will be 'replica'

The propane tanks, heater, and torch were dragged away from the structure as crews fought the fire, Vlahos told investigators. 

Bouchard, Vahos, LeRoy, and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Fire Investigator Thomas Bisio all were on hand for Thursday's update.