A city employee has been charged with arson after a fire was set Tuesday morning at the City of London clubhouse at some point following the city’s recent introduction of “devastating budget cuts” to the facility.
Doug McKenna, the clubhouse manager, was arrested and charged with an arson charge following the incident. He was released after posting bond, the city said. McKenna is also due in court on May 8 to face an unrelated DUI charge.
“When asked what would have happened if this had occurred in January or March, when the city was not heavily down on staff, the police officer who led the investigation said, ‘it would have been a significant number of golfers out of work.’ That is why the investigation began,” Chief Executive Officer Len Poynter said in a statement.
The fire was reported shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday at the City of London Golf Club, a 19-hole, municipal course. A police officer had responded to a report of smoke and discovered a fire in the bowling alley area of the clubhouse. When emergency responders were on scene, the fire grew rapidly and the golf course was evacuated as a precaution. The fire was extinguished by 11:42 a.m.
“The fire did not damage any of the course’s infrastructure,” the city said in its statement. “We have fully restored the clubhouse after an exterior wall was set on fire and we are optimistic that we will be able to play golf at City of London Golf Club again tomorrow.”
The course’s Board of Directors hosted a news conference Tuesday to discuss the fire, and a Twitter account for The City of London Golf Club, which used to remain inactive, later posted a statement outlining a statement by Poynter.