Capetonians open hearts, wallets to thank firefighters battling mountain blaze

A mountain of water bottles and energy drinks could be seen upon entering the facility, with scores of volunteers packing medical supplies, energy boosters, food and other essentials.

Bottles of water and energy drinks are stacked at the Roeland Street fire station in Cape Town following donations from residents and businesses to the firefighters battling the Table Mountain fire on 20 April 2021. Picture: Lizell Persens/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Donations for firefighters, other emergency staff as well as University of Cape Town students were still streaming in in the wake of a massive fire that decimated at least 500 hectares of vegetation and destroyed several buildings at the university.

The inferno started building up on Sunday on the slopes of Table Mountain before spreading fast.

Dozens of firefighters continue to monitor flare-ups.

At the Central fire station in Cape Town, residents and businesses continued to show their solidarity with their hearts and wallets.

A mountain of water bottles and energy drinks could be seen upon entering the facility, with scores of volunteers packing medical supplies, energy boosters, food and other essentials.

A visibly fatigued firefighter said that these supplies kept them going.

"We appreciate what the public does for us and I want to thank my colleagues for the amount of work they're doing. I know it's tiring sometimes and you tell yourself 'I can't' but we still push through because we want to save people's lives and protect their properties," the firefighter said.

People from all walks of life and ages have reached into their pockets.

Six-year-old Luca de Oliviera travelled with his mom from Hout Bay.

"I brought some lollipops and Energade."

The grade one learner thanked firefighters for their unrelenting efforts.

"Thank you for saving the university and Table Mountain."

Students at the University of Cape Town said that they appreciated the outpouring of support they'd received during this difficult period.

Storm-Rose Bekker is a biology student at UCT. She's volunteered to pack meals and other supplies for firefighters.

She's been assisting at the Central fire station since Monday.

"It's heartbreaking. I've seen some fo the firefighters come in here and they can't even see, their eyes are burning so much and they're crying. But seeing all of this, literally, there's a mountain of water here, and there's been tears shed but to see Cape Town come together and Cape Town share their hearts and open their arms for everybody that they can. People care."

She said that seeing the Jagger Reading Room go up in flames tugged at her heartstrings.

"I think it was heartbreaking in the library situation for me because a lot of those books were really rare and a lot of students have passed through the walls, I know my godmother is 72 and she studied there, and seeing in tears, oh my word."

Deborah van der Bergh, another student at the tertiary institution, said that this experience had been no less than traumatic.

"The pandemic that we went through last year and also just trying to recover from that and as we recover, we come across this devastating fire now just coming into 2021, which is very sad."

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