Table Mountain disaster: Historic buildings destroyed in Cape Town

A wildfire on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain has spread to the nearby University of Cape Town campus, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of students, officials say. The blaze spread quickly after breaking out on Sunday morning near a memorial to politician Cecil Rhodes. A restaurant was destroyed.

The fire partially destroyed the University of Cape Town’s Jagger Library and the historic Mostert Mill. Other buildings were also affected. Four helicopters are water-bombing the flames. South African National Parks said firefighters were alerted at 09:00 local time (07:00 GMT). The flames spread quickly because of the low humidity and dry bush. The fire created its own wind further increasing the rate of spread, it added, estimating that firefighters would need at least three days to control the blaze. More than 120 firefighters were deployed in the area, one of whom had to be sent to the hospital to treat burns. Residents of the area are warned about smoke and soot in the air and are told to keep windows and doors closed. After the initial investigation, it is assumed that the source of the fire was from an evacuated tramp fire. Meanwhile, hikers in Table Mountain National Park were urged to leave, and drivers parked in the area were told to collect cars.