Loss of heritage sites in Cape fires is devastating - Winde

The blaze broke out near Rhodes Memorial on Sunday and spread to the university.

Authorities at the scene of the fire in UCT. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Monday said the loss of heritage sites including University of Cape Town’s African studies library was devastating.

Winde was joined by UCT management and provincial officials to assess the damage of the fire at one of the country's oldest university and other sites.

Five UCT buildings were damaged in the fire on Sunday after it spread to the campus from Table Mountain.

Winde has thanked all those who continue to battle the blaze.

“I continue to be very worried about the fire that’s on the mountain. Thank you very much to the citizens who’ve continued to support the firefighters and thank you to our firefighters who are out there fighting this blaze. The wind is not helping and please, we need everyone to stay safe.”

The Jagger Library has been severely damaged and safety workers can be seen carrying out four wooden chairs and it appears there is not much that can be saved.

At the same time, UCT is still counting the cost of the devastating fire.

UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng said: “So, we evacuated more than 4,000 students and they are currently accommodated around hotels in Cape Town. They are safe.”

Phakeng explained the extent of the damage: Four buildings and an office block have been burnt down. The extent of the damage differs on each building.”

FIRE NOT CONTAINED

The smell of smoke still hangs in the air and four fire engines remain parked outside the Sarah Baartman Hall.

The Table Mountain fire is still not contained and windy conditions are still preventing aerial support.

Table Mountain National Parks fire manager Philip Prins said: “It’s not contained at this stage, we had a good containment earlier on this afternoon but then there was a flare up... The plan was this morning to dispatch aerial resources but because of the wind, we just couldn’t. The wind is still very strong and, unfortunately, with those conditions, we just can’t dispatch aerial resources.”

Local Government and Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell has spared a thought for four injured firefighters.

“From my side, I just want to call on the families of the four firefighters that were injured that our thoughts and prayers go out to you. We will be there to take your hand and will walk this road with you. May they recover quickly.”

VIDEO: CT fire rages on, one person arrested

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