More than 120 firefighters are battling a massive blaze due to an “out of control” fire in Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park. According to South African officials, evacuations are being carried out due to an out of control fire that broke out in the Tables Mountain National Park yesterday.
The fire which has already burnt its way through the University of Cape Town has destroyed building including the Botany department which housed the Bolus Her-barium, founded in 1826 and housed one of the most extensive collections of specimens and literature on South African flora.
So many irreplaceable documents and archives are now feared burnt and destroyed including the African Studies Library.
The Rhodes Memorial Fire was reported at 09:00 on Sunday, 18 April and TMNP/ contract wildfire crews (NCC Wildfire) from the Newlands Firebase were dispatched immediately according to the Table Mountain National Park.
The location of the fire was immediately above Philip Kgosana Drive/Hospital Bend. After the initial investigation, it is surmised that the origin of the fire is from a vacated vagrant fire. It should be noted that due to the extreme Fire Danger Index for today which is Red with temperatures of 36 degrees noted and an extremely low relative humidity of under 10% the fire spread rapidly in the direction of Rhodes Memorial. One of the major contributors to the rapid rate of spread was the very old pine trees and their debris, authorities say.
The fire created its own wind that further increased the rate of spread. The excessive amount of smoke and related updrafts made it impossible for the aerial support to slow the rate of spread. According to Philip Prins – TMNP Fire Manager said “We currently have 129 firefighters on the line from TMNP, NCC Wildfires; Working on Fire, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services; Volunteer Wildfire Services. More firefighting crews will join us shortly. TMNP and the City of Cape Town have 4 helicopters currently operating in the area. There are numerous other water tankers and firefighting vehicles on the scene managed between TMNP and the City of Cape Town.
It can be confirmed that the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant has unfortunately burnt down. The fire has also spread to the veld above the University of Cape Town (UCT) upper campus and to areas below the M3. Roads have been closed and please be vigilant when travelling through these areas.”