Huge fire destroys building at Morden golf course, damages others

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A restaurant and event hall on a golf course in southern Manitoba was destroyed in a fire on Saturday morning.

Morden Deputy Fire Chief Tim Reimer said his department received the call about a structural fire at the town’s Minnewasta Golf and Country Club at around 9:20 a.m.

By the time the crews arrived, the fire at the large wood-frame structure was fully involved, Reimer said. It took around 40 firefighters from Morden and the nearby town of Winkler to bring the flames under control.

The golf course pro shop and a garage housing golf carts next door were also slightly damaged, he said.

As serious as the fire was, it could have been a lot worse, said Geoff Kehler, the country club’s chief professional.

The fire completely destroyed the club house, which houses the dining room, hall and kitchen. (Travis Golby / CBC)

“I was really happy to see how the firefighters did a good job of containing the fire and not letting it spread for sure. They did an amazing job,” Kehler told CBC News.

Thanks to the firefighters, local golfers will be able to resume their hobby there in the spring, he said. There was no event planned for this winter in the building that burned down.

Morden Deputy Fire Chief Tim Reimer stands in front of the wreckage after the fire at the Minnewasta Golf and Country Club. He said 40 firefighters from Winkler and Morden fought the blaze. (Travis Golby / CBC)

Morden Mayor Brandon Burley said he was grateful to the Winkler firefighters who showed up to help fight the flames.

“These are the kinds of calls where you see cooperation and camaraderie in our region, and we are very grateful for their support,” he said.

The blaze comes just three days after Morden put its first tanker into service. Burley has previously said the town should have relied solely on crews from Winkler, which is eight miles away.

“These are minutes that are wasted, aren’t they?” ” he said.

“If we weren’t able to deliver water quickly in a fire of this size, we’d be in a bit of a dilemma. So it’s good to see it go into service.”

A firefighter combs the rubble of the Minnewasta Golf and Country Club clubhouse on Saturday, looking for hot spots to extinguish. (Travis Golby / CBC)

Gordon Maddock, city councilor and deputy mayor of Morden, said the facility has been closed due to pandemic restrictions and difficulties finding direction, but he hopes to see a new one erected in its place.

“We had our issues with this, but we were eagerly awaiting new people to come in and also run the restaurant and dining room,” said Maddock, who is also a member of the course.

“It’s a huge loss, but hopefully the insurance covers it and we can clean it up and start building a new one.”

The Minnewasta Golf and Country Club pro shop was also damaged due to the massive fire. (Travis Golby / CBC)

And while the loss will mean “short-term pain” for the city and its tourist dollars, Burley said he was happy the loss was not even more severe.

“Buildings can be rebuilt, can’t they? ” he said.

The fire department is now awaiting the arrival of a representative from the Office of the Fire Marshal to help with the investigation into the cause of the fire, Reimer said.

As this investigation has not yet started, no damage estimate is available.


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