CAPETOWN, South Africa — A wildfire in South Africa has caused massive damage after burning Cape Town’s National park, Table mountain, alongside other historic buildings.
The fire got out of control and spread to the nearby University of Cape Town, forcing the evacuation of students and mountain hikers.
In a statement, the university confirmed that “All UCT students have been evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff.”
Around 200 Firefighters and four helicopters were deployed to the scene to contain the fire.
According to Jermaine Carlese, spokesman for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, two firefighters were injured and nine structures destroyed in the inferno.
The South African National Park said it estimated that firefighters will need three days to control the fire which spread quickly due to low humidity and dry bush. It said, “After the initial investigation, it is surmised that the origin of the fire is from a vacated vagrant fire.”
The fire started early Sunday 18, near Cecil Rhodes’ memorial at Devils’ peak before spreading up the slopes of Table Mountain.
Among the buildings destroyed include Rhodes Memorial restaurant, Mostert’s mill which is South Africa’s oldest working windmill built in 1976, and three structures at the University of Cape Town.
City officials and the university say the structures destroyed by the fire include the Jagger library which houses priceless African studies collections.
Cape Town Mayor Don Plato stated, “It is tragic that literary treasures have been lost at UCT library, but I have been informed that some of the most valuable works were saved by the quick activation of roller doors.”
The area’s residents have been urged to keep windows and doors closed due to smoke and suit in the air.