Returning UCT students face up to knock-on effect of fire on campus life

The fire led to thousands of students being evacuated from their residences.

Charred trees and debris litter UCT's upper campus in the immediate aftermath of the wildfire that damaged some university property. Picture: Lizell Persens/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - As many students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) head back to lectures on Monday, some of them are still coming to terms with what happened last week.

A wildfire that started at the slopes of Table Mountain last Sunday, swiftly spread to the campus, destroying several academic and historic buildings in its trail of destruction.

The fire led to thousands of students being evacuated from their residences.

GALLERY: UCT counts cost of damage to campus after fire

About 90% of them have since returned, while those who stayed at Smuts and Fuller halls remain housed in temporary accommodation.

Michaella Rogers is completing her honours in Economics.

The 22-year-old is one of many who had to evacuate following the runaway fire.

READ: Mixed feelings for UCT students as academic programme resumes after fire

Though fires are a commonplace occurrence in the city, Rogers quickly realised that this one was serious and panic set in.

"The first time I realised there was a problem is when we heard the Rhodes Memorial restaurant explode, that was the first time we realised that this was quite a lot more serious than fires we had seen on the mountain before."

The academic programme was temporarily halted last week and she was grateful for the time off as she returns to a test this morning.

"University is quite a fast-paced thing and I'm at post-graduate level now and I was aware that we're going to have to pick up the pace. As soon as we go back we are going to pick up the pace and continue. I'm ready to get going again in the sense that I recognise that it's something that needs to be done."

The rest of her time will be spent volunteering to help salvage what remains in the Jagger Library.

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