MORTON GROVE, Ill. (STMW) — Forty-five golf carts were destroyed Monday when a fire spread through an area of a Cook County Forest Preserve golf course near north suburban Morton Grove.

Cook County Sheriff’s Department Spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said the fire was reported around 8:50 p.m. by an employee of the Chick Evans Golf Course, at 6145 Golf Rd.

Ansari said it appeared that a “tiki torch” may have been used to start the fire which spread across a set of golf carts parked on the south side of the clubhouse area, damaging nearly four dozen of them.

“It’s not an accidental fire,” Ansari said. “At this point, the cause and the motive are under investigation.”

Morton Grove Fire Chief Tom Friel added that the fire was “definitely suspicious and most likely intentional.” He would not say if it appeared that an accelerant had been used, though he noted that each cart is powered by gasoline which likely contributed to it spreading rapidly.

The golf carts had a value of about $3,000 each, Ansari said, resulting in estimated loss of $135,000.

According to Friel, roughly two dozen carts were left untouched by the flames. A nearby oak tree was charred, but no injuries were reported.

Morton Grove and Glenview Fire Departments responded to the fire, which Friel said was extinguished in minutes.

“We got control of it fairly quickly,” he said.

Jered Wieland, regional manager for Chick Evans Golf Course, said the fire destroyed about 80 percent of the fleet of carts. The course has reopened since the fire and will use carts from other area golf courses through the remainder of the golf season, Wieland said.

“It really hasn’t impacted the other courses because we’re pulling from a few different facilities,” he added. “We’ve been able to get Chick Evans back up and fully functional.”

The extent of the damage that occurred is a first for the course, Wieland said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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