Arson is suspected in an early-morning fire that caused an estimated $1 million in damage today to a maintenance barn at Hobbit's Glen golf course in Columbia.
Firefighters arriving at 4 a.m. at the Hobbit's Glen Golf Course's maintenance building, in the 11000 block of Willow Bottom Road, reported seeing several juveniles running from the area, said Lt. Chris Shimer, a spokesman for the Howard County Fire Department.
The fire was reported by neighbors of the golf club -- focal point for the Hobbit's Glen neighborhood, which includes some of Columbia's most expensive houses, many of which have been custom-built.
Arriving firefighters found an L-shaped maintenance building "well involved" with fire, said Lieutenant Shimer.
The building housed lawn mowers, seeding equipment, fertilizers and pesticides used on the course. Several small explosions of pesticides were reported during the fire.
The clubhouse, pro shop, and restaurant and building that housed the course's golf carts were not affected.
About 20 firefighters battled the blaze for about 30 minutes before putting it out, he said.
Damage to the building and golf-course maintenance equipment was estimated at $1 million by fire officials and the Columbia Park and Recreation Association, which owns and operates the golf course and other recreational facilities in the Howard County town.
Andrew Bennet, 19, a volunteer firefighter from Clarksville, was treated for heat exhaustion at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, said Lieutenant Shimer.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the fire to call the state fire marshal's arson hot line: (800) 492-7529.