Richmond, VA – Sprinklers protect country club’s interior after fire breaks out on roof

A roofing company working without a required permit sparked a fire last Friday by using a torch to seal some materials on the roof of the Westhampton Clubhouse at the Country Club of Virginia, Richmond fire officials said.

The company, Hermitage Roofing Inc., did not obtain a permit from the Richmond Fire Department to conduct “hot work” on the clubhouse roof as required by law, said Richmond Fire Marshal David Creasy Sr. The company was cited for violating the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code and issued a summons, Creasy said.

Contractors are required to “come in and tell us what they are doing” to secure a permit to do such work, Creasy said. “Sometimes we perform a site visit with something like this,” he added.In addition, Creasy said the fire department’s response was delayed because roofing company workers attempted — unsuccessfully — to extinguish the fire once it started before calling the fire department.

“The workers tried to put it out for several minutes with a garden hose, and so that didn’t help things for us at all,” Creasy said. “Good intentions, but when that kind of stuff happens people need to call us. Even if we get there and it’s out, at least we were there and we could help look for hidden fire.”

The fire was “in a difficult place to get to, but what really helped us in getting the fire out was a couple of sprinkler heads activated and stopped the fire’s spread in part of the building,” Creasy added. “And then our guys and girls opened up the roof so we could get to the roof area and make sure that we cut out any fire extension.”

The fire damage was “all up high,” Creasy said, but the clubhouse’s dining and lounge area sustained substantial smoke and water damage.

“You had a lot of smoke that got into the building, and the smoke traveled farther than the water and, of course, the fire,” he said. “So there may be some painting of walls (that will be required) in a much wider area of the building than any of the water damage.”

Creasy said it would be difficult to estimate the total monetary damage.

City firefighters were called at 10:44 a.m. Friday, and the first units to arrive found flames coming from a portion of the clubhouse roof. As crews worked to extinguish that fire, additional units arrived and found fire inside the building as well.

A second alarm was sounded at 11:13 a.m., primarily to get additional personnel on the scene to relieve crews because of the heat. The fire was marked under control at 11:34 a.m.

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