Several electric golf carts that were flooded in Hurricane Ian caught on fire last week on Sanibel.
At about 4 p.m. on Oct. 16, the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District responded to The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel. The district reported that the fire was contained and confined to the carts, which were parked in a paved area, and there was no structure involvement.
The responding crews remained on scene until all of the hazards had been mitigated.
Fire Chief Kevin Barbot reported that there were 32 carts involved.
It took the crews about 15 minutes to control the fire and extinguish the flames.
He noted that there were no reported injuries.
“We don’t know the source. It’s undetermined,” Barbot said of the cause of the fire, adding that it probably can be attributed to the batteries, however, as they were submerged during the storm.
Hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles are designed to be safe in the water, even when fully submerged. However, submersion in water — especially saltwater — can damage low- and high-voltage components, resulting in an electrical short and potential fire once that vehicle is no longer submerged.
In a social media post, The Dunes reported that the carts had been removed from its cart barn the previous week as a precautionary measure as their storm surge-soaked lithium batteries were a known fire hazard. The remaining undamaged carts have since been moved near the burn pile for safety.
To prevent another fire, residents who left an electric vehicle or golf cart in or near their property before the hurricane have been asked to contact the district. Fire crews have been relocating vehicles and carts from inside garages and near homes to an area at least 15 feet away from any structures.
The district can only move vehicles if it can access the properties and garages.
“The district’s goal is to move these vehicles a safe distance from homes,” it reported. “Your fire district is continuing it’s extraordinary work on removing these assets to a safe distance.”
Any residents who left an electric vehicle or golf cart in or near their property is asked to email Assistant Administrator Greta Fulkerson at email@example.com and provide the following information: name, phone number, address and type(s) of vehicle(s) on the property.