CGPD takes charge of late clubhouse fire

Posted 10/27/21

The investigation of the suspicious fire of Sunday, Aug. 1 at the former Mississippi Dunes Golf Course clubhouse has been handed from the State Fire Marshal to the Cottage Grove Police Department. …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

CGPD takes charge of late clubhouse fire


The investigation of the suspicious fire of Sunday, Aug. 1 at the former Mississippi Dunes Golf Course clubhouse has been handed from the State Fire Marshal to the Cottage Grove Police Department.

Prior to the transfer, Lead Investigator Bruce Mc-Laughlin studied the case for one month. The Journal obtained his report on Oct. 25.

Flames initiated in the assembly area of the clubhouse. They spread and caused the ‘’total structural loss’’ of the clubhouse. McLaughlin elaborated, ‘’Initial drone video taken by a responding Cottage Grove police officer show the southern rear area of the main building section collapsed and venting flame with heavy smoke production upon police and fire department arrival.’’

Due to the tremendous damage, a thorough interior examination could not be conducted safely. McLaughlin utilized photographs captured from outside of the clubhouse to learn about its inside. He evaluated the exterior as the fire was being tamed on Aug. 1. From this exam, it was apparent that ‘’only the front exterior wall of the main building remained standing with the exception of partial side and rear masonry wall & columns. The roof and other structural walls were collapsed with an interior debris field heavily consumed and smoldering.’’

McLaughlin recorded that the clubhouse fire was intentionally set. To begin with, the building’s telephone, water, electricity, and fuel utilities were inactive at the time of the investigation. An Xcel Energy crew verified these statuses. Secondly, Officer Jeffrey Rydeen from the Cottage Grove Police Department discovered items of ‘’potential physical FIRE

evidence” at the scene. A firework mortar was pinpointed in the parking lot; a white chef-style jacket was found on the northeast exterior’s grounds. Third of all, the clubhouse has endured a ‘’history of smaller fires and trespassing.”

How and by whom the arson was committed remains unknown. The State Fire Marshal’s report did not define the heat source, nor the material ignited that led to the clubhouse’s destruction. Additionally, ‘’battery powered exterior trail cameras” failed to film moments related to the fire. This is what the private owner of the property informed Officer Rydeen.

A potential criminal is being looked into. In his report, McLaughlin stated that he collected an arson hotline tip sheet on Friday, Aug. 27. The succeeding day, he reached the person who submitted the sheet. Then, on Aug. 29, McLaughlin passed his research to Officer Rydeen.

On Sept. 2, the State Fire Marshal finished investigating the clubhouse fire.

The Cottage Grove Police Department is proceeding to study the occurrence as arson.

The late structure was once a part of the Mississippi Dunes Golf Course. For over two decades, it operated within the 185 acres of 18 holes. This is based on what John Croman wrote in a KARE 11 article that was published in October of 2017. That fall, the course and its clubhouse shut down.

Edina Realty listed the expanse for $10 million.

Today, David Gustafson of Dunes L.L.C. owns the Mississippi Dunes. It is a 196-acre rural residential zone with 2,300 lineal feet of shoreline.

Currently, the City of Cottage Grove is revising a master plan for the Mississippi Dunes. They aim to develop 33 acres into a riverfront park. A few of its features would be native landscape restoration, a playground, a four-season building, a dock, and a picnic place.

The master plan also consists of expanding the Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) by 12 acres and installing 1.5 miles of trails and greenway. Finally, creating 90 acres of medium-density housing in the Mississippi Dunes has been suggested. 260 lots of single-family homes could sandwich the park with the river. With the project, the city desires “to improve public access to the Mississippi River.”

Locals have defied the master plan in interviews with The Journal and during community gatherings. They would rather preserve riverfront land than develop it.

The Journal will notify readers of new developments in the Mississippi Dunes Golf Links Club House blaze investigation as they surface.