A fire broke out near Table Mountain on Sunday morning and caused extensive damage to property and people in the area, it has been established. According to Jermaine Carelse who is the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, the department had been made aware of the fire early on Sunday morning.
It is believed that a vagrant in his thirties has been arrested in connection with the fire, which has been referred to as a vegetation fire because of the pinewood on the slopes of Table Mountain where the fire is believed to have started. This was confirmed by J.P. Smith, the mayoral committee member responsible for safety and security.
The fire is said to have moved from the slopes of the world-famous mountain and encroached into residential areas, where it caused extensive damage to the Rhodes Memorial and University of Cape Town Upper Campus on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, the Rhodes Memorial restaurant had been razed to the ground according to Philip Prins, the Table Mountain National Park Fire Manager. In addition to the upper campus, the UCT library and residencies had also been damaged by the fire.
Meanwhile, more and more people have been asked to vacate their homes as a precautionary measure. Areas such as Walmer Estate near Zonnebloem in the City Bowl had been asked to vacate their premises for their own safety. However, some of these residents were, on Monday morning seen trying to put out the fire in an attempt to stop it from invading their homes. However, the city’s fire department was actively trying to get the fire under control. They have 150 firefighters as well as 32 fire fighting appliances at work in the Vredehoek and the UCT areas. However, by Monday morning, the fire department could only confirm that only two firefighters had been injured even though there is a possibility of more.
The South African Air Force is also in the area to try and help the city to contain the fire, which is being aggravated by the winds in the area. According to the MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, “At the moment the wind is too strong, and it is not safe to fly the helicopters. As soon as the weather permits, the air force will be in the air. The Oryx can carry a water payload of 2 000 litres per drop.’’ He advised people in the area to respect instructions issued by authorities and desist from trying to get to Table Mountain for recreational purposes until the disaster had been averted.