Golf carts on Sanibel Island engulfed in flames for second time since Hurricane Ian

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Golf carts on Sanibel Island engulfed in flames for second time since Hurricane Ian

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For the second time in a little more than a month, the fleet of golf carts at Sanibel Island’s The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club caught on fire Friday.

Just like the first time it happened on Oct. 16, thick black smoke could be seen from miles way, rising above the golf course located on the northeast side of the island, not very far from the Sanibel Causeway.

PGA Club Professional Mike Dopslaff told The News-Press Friday night that the cause of the fire was likely what caused the carts to burst into flames four weeks ago — a chemical reaction between the cart’s lithium batteries and the salt water residue left on the carts when the storm surge from Ian flooded the property on Sept 28.

“Nothing different about what happened (in October), just 39 (carts) this time, 71 of 72 now gone, ashes,” Dopslaff said.

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It is not as if Dopslaff and his staff need reminders of what Ian did to Southwest Florida. He and his team have been working tirelessly on various recovery and clean-up efforts at the popular golf course. 

In the early days of Ian’s aftermath, the only way Dopslaff could get to the golf course was by boat. Pieces of the Sanibel Causeway were washed during the Category 4 storm.

There are approximately 400 members (about 200 play golf) at The Dunes, which also has tennis courts and a swimming pool. The par-70 golf course is 18 holes and measures 5,600 yards from the back tees.

When the hurricane was over and it was safe to venture out to assess the damage, Dopslaff found a hot tub taking up space on his 18th green.

Dopsalff said the golf carts have remained at the course. They are awaiting inspection from insurance company representatives.

“They were being held to be inspected by several concerned companies and a couple of the alphabet government agencies,” Dopslaff said in an email. “They had not been touched for weeks. I don’t know if the temperature change got things jumping or what, but very strange.”

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There is a bright side to this saga, Dopslaff said.

“I just keep thinking what if that happened while they were being transported,” he said.

With all but one golf cart impacted by the fires, this aspect of the recovery is likely something Dopslaff doesn’t have to worry about in the future.

But his to-do list is still long.

“We still don’t have power … ,” he said. “… plumbing, phones or internet … so hoping this coming week get’s us back to 21st century.”