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Sweeping mountain fire reaps destruction in Mother City

Capetonians are struck with the loss of priceless heritage treasures as fire rips across Table Mountain and the University of Cape Town campus.

A statement released by the COCT (City of Cape Town) on Sunday 18th reads as follows:

At about 8.45am the City’s Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to a vegetation fire above Philip Kgosana Drive. Fire crews were immediately dispatched to the scene, with the fire currently spreading from Rhodes Memorial toward UCT. A section of the tea room at Rhodes Memorial has been destroyed and people are urged not to enter the area. More resources are currently on their way to assist firefighting efforts. These include teams from Working on Fire and Table Mountain National Park. Three choppers are also water bombing the area. Public donations towards the firefighting efforts can be dropped off at the Roeland Street fire station. Anyone who wishes to provide donations is advised that the four items required are: water, energade, energy bars and eyegene. Any foodstuffs being donated have to be sealed, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.

A further update by the COCT hours later read:

Efforts continue to contain a vegetation fire in the mountain above UCT.The City of Cape Town is engaging in active firefighting efforts along with TMNP and the Volunteer Wildfire Service.At this stage, UCT has initiated an evacuation of student residences. The City is working with the university to coordinate alternative accommodation for affected students.The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) has not called on any residents to evacuate. The situation is being monitored and staff will go door-to-door in the event that evacuation is required.For now, residents are advised to keep doors and windows closed to manage the impact of smoke caused by the fire.The City can confirm that property has been affected; however, our focus at the moment is on active firefighting efforts and updates on affected properties will be provided when the information is available.The DRMC and Fire & Rescue Service will provide updates as the situation unfolds. Media are requested to monitor the WhatsApp group for such updates.Furthermore, the public is advised that any donations should be dropped off at the Roeland Street fire station. Donations of water, Energade, energy bars and Eyegene are encouraged.Anyone wishing to donate foodstuff is advised that items must be sealed, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.

Latest update by COCT on firefighting efforts: The fire has now spread towards the Vredehoek area as a result of the South Easter. The wind speed increased from about 2am this morning and additional fire crews are now stationed at Pepper Tree and Chelmsford area. As a precautionary these areas were evacuated. Further crews are on Tafelberg road as the wind speed is predicted to increase throughout the morning. This could also potentially impact on the deployment of aerial firefighting support this morning. More than 250 firefighters from the City, TMNP, Working on Fire and the Volunteer Wildfire Services remain on the ground, fighting the fire on various fronts.

Photo credits: Misha Jordaan / Gallo Images, EPA-EFE / NIC BOTHMA, Volunteer Wildfire Services