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Southfield firefighters honored for saving memorabilia at Oakland Hills Country Club

Posted at 5:47 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 17:47:53-04

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Local firefighters are getting a special thank you. In this case, it's not for saving a life or a structure.

Four Southfield firefighters are being credited with rescuing several irreplaceable, decades-old artifacts from the iconic Oakland Hills Country Club after a fire in February.

The call came in just after 9 a.m. on Feb. 17. Bloomfield Township firefighters rushed to the country club.

The massive flames rapidly took over the clubhouse. The smoke could be seen miles away. Many were heartbroken.

More than a dozen fire departments responded to the scene that day including a team from Southfield.

“I said, ‘I've got four guys. We can go in and get some things before it gets out of hand,” Southfield Fire Department Lt. Zachary McKee said.

The different crews worked quickly — and together — to salvage what they could of the nearly 100-year-old structure, as well as the decades of priceless golf history it held.

“We started grabbing trophies. We broke the trophy case, grabbed the statue in the corner and started handing it to these guys and they were awesome,” McKee said.

McKee and his team from Southfield were able to clear out the main trophy case in the lobby and two smaller trophy cases. They grabbed photos from the walls and picked up as many paintings from the basement as they could.

They were in an out in five minutes, just as the ceiling began to cave in.

“We're there to help and it seems like pulling all of the memorabilia out made a lot of people happier,” Patrick Kerr with the Southfield Fire Department said.

Related: PHOTO GALLERY: FIRE AT OAKLAND HILLS COUNTRY CLUB

On Friday, the golf community recognized their quick thinking.

“Thank you again for all your efforts. We realize you guys do this daily, but we really appreciate all your efforts to save all those great artifacts at Oakland Hills that day. Thank you,” Ken Griffin with Boyne Golf said.

7 Action News was told the group enjoys spending their days off on the golf course. So on Friday, they were presented with gift cards and multiple rounds of free golf from Boyne, Treetops and Shanty Creek golf courses.

They were also given special challenge coins from the Michigan Freedom Center.

“To understand all that they went through and all that they did to save that structure and to save everything in it and the history that we have here for golf in Michigan is pretty incredible,” Griffin said.

But for Kerr, this is just what they do.

"You just take it like any other fire you'd do. You go in and do your job,” Kerr said.

But it was a job well done that deserved to be recognized.

Investigators believe that massive fire was likely started by contractors working with a torch on site. There are plans in the works to build a replica of the historic clubhouse.

It's unclear how soon work could begin.