Rick Gardner said he thought his phone would be ringing off the hook after a fire gutted the vacant clubhouse at D’Andrea golf course, but the flood of calls from homeowners in the D’Andrea development never happened.
Gardner and his company, Equus Management Group, provide management services for the D’Andrea homeowners association.
Perhaps the homeowners weren’t that surprised that the clubhouse, the target of vandalism, was destroyed last week by a fire that’s been called suspicious. They also may be accustomed to unfortunate news when it comes to their community in east Sparks.
Video from a surveillance camera at a home near the clubhouse revealed two vehicles—a white four-door pickup and a silver sedan— and six people in the area just prior to the fire, officials said.
Sparks Fire Marshal Robert King said that while the fire is suspicious, the cause remains under investigation. The people and the vehicles observed in the video are “just another piece of the puzzle we’re trying to put together,” he said.
The three-alarm fire, one of the largest in Sparks, was reported about 2:30 a.m. last Wednesday by a motorist who saw smoke. The blaze spread rapidly, giving firefighters no chance to save the building.
“It was quite a sizable fire,” King said. “It spread pretty darn quickly and ended up going into the attic and breaching the roof as well. Once it did that and got a lot of air, it became fully engulfed.”
Firefighters weren’t able to stay inside the building for long because it became too dangerous, he said.
“We had a partial roof collapse happening at that point so we had to back out and pretty much had to take a defensive mode from that point on.”
He said it took many hours and a lot of water to put out the fire, which depleted Sparks’ firefighting resources.
“We went to a third alarm on this fire, which is something that we don’t do too often,” the fire marshal said.
The clubhouse, which opened in 2000, and the 18-hole golf course have been closed since 2012, causing a rift between the property’s owner and homeowners, who have complained about vandalism and neglect.
The golf course was scheduled to be auctioned off last spring because of unpaid taxes. The auction, however, was avoided when the owner, identified in county records as IPC D’Andrea LLC, paid the tax bill, which exceeded $400,000.
The owner has been exploring the possibility of turning the clubhouse into a winery and events center, and using golf course land for a vineyard.
Randi Thompson, a public relations and government affairs consultant, said she and Steve Trollope were asked by the owner to develop the winery project.
In a statement, the two said they and the owner have made numerous repairs to the clubhouse for damage caused by vandalism. The repairs included replacing wood panels that had been ripped off doors and windows, repairing a large exterior hole, cleaning the grounds and painting to cover up graffiti.
They said they were in the process of ordering video equipment to monitor and capture the people who have been vandalizing the building.
“This fire is a tremendous setback to our efforts to revitalize the D’Andrea clubhouse and grounds for the entire D’Andrea community,” they said.