A North Wilkesboro man died in a structure fire at Countryside Golf Course in the Austin community Thursday morning.
Gary Jordan, 64, of Gwyn Street, was deceased when he was found in the remains of a 60-foot-by-40-foot wooden frame building, said Det. Tim Pardue of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office.
The building and its contents, including about 25 electric and gas-powered golf carts, a 250-gallon gas tank and mowing equipment, were destroyed.
Wilkes Medical Examiner Terry Taylor said two golfers on the course when the fire started said they spoke to Jordan and paid him their course fees a few minutes after 7 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.
A person who lives nearby reported the fire and the Wilkes Communications Center dispatched fire departments at 7:38 a.m.
Pardiue said the building was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and Jordan was found toward the back of the structure.
He said the cause of the fire hasn’t been confirmed but added that it appears to be accidental. He said investigators theorized that Jordan was smoking a cigar while putting gas in golf carts at Countryside and that this could have ignited gas fumes, resulting in the fire. Pardue said investigators were told that Jordan, who worked at Countryside on Thursdays, smoked cigars.
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.
Pardue said Jeff Mitchell and Joey Stone are the owners of Countryside Golf Course and that he was told they have insurance. The golf course is on Spicer Road, which is off Austin-Little Mountain Road.
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.
Jordan also sold newspapers for the Wilkes Journal-Patriot on the Main Street of North Wilkesboro.