Eagle's Pointe resident Diego Mahecha took this photo of a fire late Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, in a shed at the community's golf course. Mahecha said he was speaking with a 911 operator to report what he thought was a small fire when he witnessed an explosion, followed by smaller explosions. "The heat after the first explosion was so intense I had to get my wife to move the car," he wrote in an email to The Island Packet.(Photo: Submitted photo by Diego Mahecha)
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The cause of a fire that incinerated 80 golf carts at Eagle's Pointe Golf Club late Friday remained undetermined a day later.
Despite a steady rain overnight and most of the next day, the ruins still smoldered Saturday afternoon. Charred golf balls were strewn around the perimeter of a burned rectangle about the size of four school buses, and a forest of blackened metal rods poked through mounds of melted plastic and wood.
Brent Carlson, general manager of the club in the greater Bluffton community, said he does not yet have an estimate of the damage. The course was closed to golfers Saturday but will reopen today . About two dozen temporary replacement carts have been provided by Textron Financial Corp., the company that owns the Eagle's Pointe and Crescent Point clubs.
"We're going to be operating as normally as possible," Carlson said. "(The company's) support group is sending as many carts as they can as soon as they can."
Both courses have been for sale since 2009, according to news reports.
Meanwhile, the Bluffton Township Fire District and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office are investigating the fire's cause.
"They have not determined the origin or the cause yet," fire district Capt. Randy Hunter said, adding the Sheriff's Office's participation in the investigation does not automatically indicate the fire is considered suspicious.
Attempts Saturday to contact Sheriff's Office officials were unsuccesful.
Eagle's Pointe resident Deigo Mahecha said he and his wife were going out to dinner at about 7:30 p.m. Friday when he noticed a flame that "looked like a campfire" near the back of the golf cart shed. Mahecha called 911 to report the flames, and about two minutes later, the entire building exploded, he said Saturday.
"The fire was the size of the entire building. ... The tops of the trees caught fire," he said. "It was like a movie."
Mahecha said he and his wife watched as the flames destroyed the building and its contents within a few minutes.
Mahecha said firefighters arrived at 5 Eagle's Pointe Drive less than five minutes after he dialed 911. More than a dozen of them worked more than three hours to put out the fire.
The fire at Eagle's Pointe was the second at a golf cart shed in southern Beaufort County since November.
Fifty-two carts were destroyed when a shed at Bear Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation burned Nov. 26. The fire was set by an arsonist, authorities have said.
Follow reporter Anne Christnovich twitter.com/IPBG_Anne.
Fire at Bluffton course destroys dozens of golf carts, Feb. 22, 2013