Fire, smoldering at Table Mountain in Cape Town under control

Cape Town, South Africa — Cape Town firefighters finally wiped wildfires on the city’s famous Table Mountain slopes, burned the university’s historic library, and forced evacuation of some areas on Monday. Suppressed the forest fire.

Smoldering fires are monitored to reignite in strong winds and hot, dry conditions.

City officials said the fire, which began early Sunday, was “mostly contained” more than 24 hours later.

The fire had already severely damaged the library and other buildings on the University of Cape Town campus on Sunday, as well as other historic buildings nearby. Supported by strong winds, it spread through wild bushes on mountain slopes towards the city center and surrounding residential areas.

Devil’s Peak, one of the iconic mountain points overlooking downtown Cape Town, was lit by flames as the fire burned throughout the night. Residents of the suburbs on the mountain slopes evacuated early Monday as the flames dangerously approached their homes.

A fire-fighting helicopter with a water container hung on a rope scooped water from a pool or nearby sea and threw it into the fire. However, they were grounded on Monday due to strong winds.

Officials said four firefighters were injured in the fight against the flames on the slopes. South African troops have offered to support some of their aircraft.

“It’s a strong wind that blows, which actually helps the fire spread in all directions,” said Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato.

A man in his thirties was arrested on suspicion of arson, according to another city official, but it is not clear if he was responsible for causing the fire. The man was arrested after witnesses reported seeing three people move through the flames and ignite more, according to JP Smith, a safety and security official in Cape Town.

According to Smith, the city asked a forensic fire investigator to investigate the cause.

Epoch Times Photo
On Sunday, April 18, 2021, a fire broke out on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The wildfires that raged on the mountain slopes forced students to evacuate from the university. Of Cape Town. (AP photo)

Wildfires in the mountains around Cape Town are fairly common during hot and dry summers and can be engulfed in huge flames that cannot be controlled by strong coastal winds. Temperatures in Cape Town peaked at 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, and winds struck the city overnight and Monday.

Approximately 250 city and volunteer firefighters have been deployed to combat the fires that damaged the four buildings at the University of Cape Town. The university said the main reading room of the Jaguar Library, where rare and unique African books and manuscripts were stored, was burned down and some of the “precious” works were lost. Others were saved after the fireproof doors were activated and part of the library was closed.

According to Ujara Satogur, the library’s secretary-general, library staff were watching “in fear” from a safe distance while the building was on fire.

The windmill built in 1796 and the restaurant near the monument to the British colonial politician Cecil Rhodes were also burned down.

According to the disaster response organization Gift of the Givers, the university was completely evacuated and closed, providing food to about 4,000 students who had to leave the university campus and its residence immediately. Many of those students were taken to a local hotel, the group said. University activities were suspended until at least Wednesday.

The group also said it supplies food and water to firefighters who have worked more than 24 hours to control the fire.

I had a hangover in some parts of Cape Town and was advised to cover my mouth and nose with a wet towel and rags during the evacuation.

Dramatic videos and photos were posted on social media by people who approached the flames of the Table Mountain slopes, which are popular with runners and mountain biking over the weekend.

Lisette Lombard posted a video of her escape from the fire after a trail run on Sunday. You can see him running out of breath as the smoke rises behind her. She said her car and others left in the parking lot had burned out completely and eventually found the help of a firefighter climbing the mountain.

“When they told me it was out of control, it was when Penny fell about how dangerous the situation was and how lucky I was,” she told the South African IOL News website. Told.

Gerald Imley