WILKES COUNTY, N.C. – Countryside Golf Course in Elkin closed on Thursday after a worker was killed in a fiery explosion in the golf cart storage shed.
Fire investigators said Gary Steven Jordan, 64, was fueling the golf carts in the storage room when a fire broke out.
Firefighters don't know what caused the initial fire but they think the fuel from the golf carts sparked the explosion.
Jordan died on the scene.
Jordan's friend and co-worker, Wayne Tuttle, is still trying to process what happened.
"It's just hard to believe. I just don't know. Words can't say it," said Tuttle. "I don't have any feelings. I don't know what to feel."
Wayne Tuttle also works at the golf course. He says he's devastated about losing his friend and coworker fire. @WFMY pic.twitter.com/27Z1vWlJEE— Ben Powell (@benpowelltv) May 11, 2017
Tuttle says this tragedy couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
"He would help you out and do anything for you and never asked for nothing much in return," said Tuttle. "He was a standup guy. He helped me out a whole lot out here working when I needed help. He's just a good friend."
Tuttle says he wishes he could have been there to save his friend, but he was late to work Thursday.
"I don't know if I could've helped him if I would've been here. But then if I could've been here, I might've been there with him," said Tuttle.
The only people at the golf course at the time of the fire were two golfers who told firefighters they heard the explosion.
The golfers rushed to the scene but by the time they arrived, it was too late.
The fire from the explosion also destroyed more than 20 golf carts inside the building on the golf course located on Spicer Road in Elkin in Wilkes County.
The fire was so large it even damaged two cars in the parking lot.
The owner of the golf course says they'll be closed for several weeks until the damaged is repaired and the golf carts are replaced.
The fire is still under investigation but firefighters believe it was accidental.
Wilkes man dies in fire at golf course
By Wendy Byerly Wood - firstname.lastname@example.org
Investigators are ruling a fatal fire Thursday morning at the Countryside Golf Course in Austin community as accidental.
According to Wilkes officials, Gary Stephen Jordan, 64, of North Wilkesboro, was filling the golf carts in the cart shed when the fire began. Austin Fire Chief Billy Vanhoy said some golfers who were on the course heard an explosion.
The structure fire was dispatched at about 7:30 a.m., and when firefighters arrived, the building was engulfed in flames, reported Chief Deputy David Carson of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office. After extinguishing the fire, he said Jordan, who was an employee of the golf course, was found in the building.
“We believe he was filling the carts with fuel when the fire started,” Carson reported, but he could not verify what ignited the fire since he’d not had a chance to speak with fire investigators.
Jordan’s body was being transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for autopsy, said Carson.
Vanhoy said the building was a total loss.
Countryside Golf Course, a nine-hole course off Spicer Road, which is off Austin Little Mountain Road, Elkin, has been a destination for golfers for more than 30 years, Carson said, noting he played golf there in high school.
Agencies aiding at the fire included Austin, Pleasant Hill, Traphill and Shepherds Crossroads fire departments, the Wilkes Sheriff’s and Fire Marshal’s offices, the State Bureau of Investigation and Wilkes EMS, who assisted with fire standby.
Wilkes man dies in structure fire at Austin golf course Thursday
A North Wilkesboro man died in a structure fire at Countryside Golf Course off Spicer Road in the Austin community Thursday morning.
Investigators believe Gary Jordan, 64, of Gwyn Street was smoking a cigar while putting gas in golf carts at Countryside and that the cigar ignited gas fumes, resulting in the fire, said Det. Tim Pardue of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office.
Pardue said investigators were told that Jordan, who worked at Countryside on Thursdays, smoked cigars.
He said the fire was in a 60-foot-by-40-foot wooden frame building with a tin roof that contained about 25 electric and gas-powered golf carts and a 250-gallon gas tank, as well as mowing equipment.
Pardue said the building was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and that Jordan was deceased when found toward the back of the structure.
Wilkes Medical Examiner Terry Taylor said the body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Taylor said two golfers were playing on hole three when the fire started said they spoke to Jordan and paid him their course fees a few minutes after 7 a.m.
A person who lives nearby reported the fire and the Wilkes Communications Center dispatched fire departments at 7:38 a.m.
Pardue said the two golfers stated that they saw a plume of smoke and heard an explosion while they were on hole three. He said the explosion likely was from the gas.
The building where Jordan was found and its contents were destroyed in the fire, he said.
Pardue said Jeff Mitchell and Joey Stone own Countryside Golf Course. He said he was told that they have insurance.
Jordan also sold newspapers on the Main Street of North Wilkesboro for the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
The fire was in the Austin Fire District and responding were the Austin, Traphill, Pleasant Hill and Shepherds Crossroads fire departments. Wilkes Emergency Medical Services and Niki Hamby, fire investigator with the sheriff’s office, also responded.
Spicer Road is off Austin-Little Mountain Road.