Huge wildfire rages on Cape Town's Table Mountain

Huge wildfire rages on Table Mountain forcing hundreds of University of Cape Town students to evacuate – as academic library burns and historic 300-year-old mill is destroyed

  • More than 100 firefighters were sent to battle a blaze that broke out on Table Mountain early on Sunday morning
  • The fire destroyed part of a memorial to Cecil Rhodes, located on Devils Peak, before spreading rapidly up the slopes
  • Hundreds of students from the University of Cape Town were evacuated as runaway flames set several of the university’s buildings ablaze 
  • Residents have not been evacuated but have been cautioned to be on alert, keep windows closed and dampen their gardens

A wildfire is raging on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain, forcing hundreds of students to evacuate on Sunday.

Runaway flames set several University of Cape Town buildings ablaze as firefighters used three helicopters to water-bomb the area.

More than 100 firefighters were sent to battle the blaze and two were hospitalised for treatment after sustaining burns, officials said.

A wildfire is raging on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain, forcing hundreds of students to evacuate on Sunday

 More than 100 firefighters were sent to battle the blaze and two were hospitalised for treatment after sustaining burns, officials said

Runaway flames set several University of Cape Town buildings ablaze as firefighters used three helicopters to water-bomb the area

The fire began early on Sunday near a memorial to Cecil Rhodes, located on Devils Peak, another part of Cape Town’s mountainous backdrop, before spreading rapidly up the slopes.  

Capetownetc.com reported that the university’s library had been reduced to ‘ash and dust’ and that the 200-year-old Mostert’s Mill windmill at Mowbray had also been destroyed. 

The Jagger Library was nearly 200 years old and housed an original illustration of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book as well as drawings, maps and transcripts of stories from the indigenous peoples of the Cape within its collection.

Capetownetc.com reported that the university’s library had been reduced to ‘ash and dust’. Pictured: Firefighters try to extinguish the flames in the library

The fire began early on Sunday near a memorial to Cecil Rhodes, located on Devils Peak, another part of Cape Town’s mountainous backdrop, before spreading rapidly up the slopes

Pictured: Fire fighters battle the blaze that destroyed the nearly 200-year-old Jagger Library on Sunday after a bushfire raged out of control

Heavy smoke could be seen from miles away and some roads were closed on Sunday.

Table Mountain National Park, which spreads over much of the city’s unbuilt area, called on social media for hikers to leave the area and for motorists to remove cars parked in the vicinity.

A first alert went up shortly before 9 am (0700 GMT), the city said.  

The University of Cape Town said in a statement that all students had been evacuated from campus by emergency support staff

Pictured: Evacuated students from the University of Cape Town flee the campus where several buildings were engulfed in flames

‘All UCT students have been evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff,’ the university said in a statement. 

The university, ranked among the best on the continent, is largely built on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and is situated close to where the fire started.

Social media footage showed students milling around on the main road, amid billowing smoke fanned by strong winds.

The 200-year-old Mostert’s Mill at Mowbray is among the historic structures to be damaged by Sunday’s wildfire

City officials said they have not asked residents in the popular Rondebosch suburb and surrounding area to evacuate. Pictured: A firefighter at Mostert’s Mill

In another video, tweeted by the local government, flames are seen raging inside an old building lined with columns as smoke plumes rose from its roof.

City officials said they have not asked residents in the popular Rondebosch suburb and surrounding area to evacuate.

‘The situation is being monitored and staff will go door-to-door in the event that evacuation is required,’ officials said.    

Residents have been cautioned to be on alert, Charlotte Powell, spokeswoman for the city’s disaster risk management center, said in a statement

Residents have been told there’s no need to evacuate but have been advised to close all windows to prevent draft and reduce heat, damp down your garden using a hose or irrigation system

More than 100 firefighters were deployed to extinguish the blaze, which was reported on Sunday morning 

Residents have been cautioned to be on alert, Charlotte Powell, spokeswoman for the city’s disaster risk management center, said in a statement.

‘At this stage, there’s no cause to evacuate, but we ask that residents adhere to the following: close all windows to prevent draft and reduce heat, damp down your garden using a hose or irrigation system,’ Powell said. 

Firefighters try to revive a colleague who collapsed due to the smoke and heat while battling the forest fire on Sunday

Pictured: A firefighter looks on as buildings at the historic Mostert’s Mill smoulder after a bushfire broke out on the slopes of Table Mountain on Sunday

Firefighter leave an area where the flames had become too aggressive on Sunday after a bushfire on the slopes of Table Mountain raged out of control

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