Morning fire destroys Red Fox CC clubhouse

Published 9:38 am Monday, November 21, 2011

A fire broke out at Red Fox Country Club's clubhouse Monday morning around 8:45 a.m. Firefighters and rescue workers from all over the region responded, including Columbus, Tryon, Saluda, Landrum, Campobello and others. According to officials, the fire started in the men's locker room. The Red Cross also assisted at the scene, located at 77 Club Road, off Red Fox Road in the Columbus area. (photos by Leah Justice)

By Samantha Hurst / Leah Justice

A column of thick black smoke could be seen from downtown Landrum around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning as the clubhouse of Red Fox Country Club became engulfed in flames.

“It’s just a mess,” said owner Gene Holbrooks as he watched the fire consume the building from a golf cart in the parking lot.

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“It just looked like a small fire when we got here but now everything is gone. There were just so many memories inside that building,” Ann Holbrooks said.

Eric Jackson, who has worked for the club for 11 years and whose father helped build the club, called for the fire department to come out around 10 minutes after 8 a.m.

“I just opened the door and smoke came pouring out – it was just engulfed inside,” Jackson said.

Fire departments responded from all over Polk County, including Columbus, Tryon, Green Creek and Mill Spring, along with the Campobello, Landrum and New Prospect fire departments.

The fire spread quickly while tanker trucks came and went to fill up at the fire hydrant at the intersection of I-26 and Landrum Road and firefighters filled swimming pools to keep water flowing on the high-reaching flames. The roof caved in within the first hour of the fire.

Longtime fire fighter Geoff Tennant was one of the first on the scene.

“You couldn’t see any flames when I pulled up, just heavy, heavy smoke,” Tennant said. “For whatever reason the fire had started the process of running the entire length of the ceiling; there was no saving the building.”

Firefighters did manage to keep the nearby pro shop from catching fire. There were few items saved from the building. A fox with a golf ball in its mouth and a few wall decorations were pulled from the fire initially.

“I’m just glad the restaurant was closed so there was no one inside,” Jackson said. “Now we’ve got to clean this up and see where we go from here.”

Red Fox Country Club’s restaurant is closed on Mondays so there were no other employees or members inside the building, Jackson said.

Restaurant Manager Donna Williams has worked at Red Fox for six years and said she and other employees are in shock.

“It’s just hard to believe,” Williams said. “We had just worked yesterday and had a big Thanksgiving lunch planned on Thursday for members. It just breaks my heart because these people – the members – they become like your family.”

The Polk County Rescue Squad, Polk County Emergency Services, Polk County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the fire.

Campobello Fire Department’s aerial truck sprays water on the fire at the clubhouse at Red Fox Country Club. (photo by Leah Justice)