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Iconic UCT buildings razed in runaway veld fire

Cape Town Fire
A runaway fire has destroyed part of the University of Cape Town / Twitter

By Kaya 959 News

Staff and management at the University of Cape Town are counting the costs after a fire swept through the Rhodes Memorial on Sunday.

SANParks said that the Rhodes Memorial fire was reported at 9am.

“TMNP/ contract wildfire crews (NCC Wildfire) from the Newlands Firebase were dispatched immediately. The location of the fire was immediately above Philip Kgosana Drive/Hospital Bend. After the initial investigation, it is surmised that the origin of the fire is from a vacated vagrant fire.

“The fire spread rapidly in the direction of Rhodes Memorial. One of the major contributors to the rapid rate of spread was the very old pine trees and their debris. The fire created its own wind that further increased the rate of spread. The excessive amount of smoke and related updrafts made it impossible for the aerial support to slow the rate of spread,” SANParks said.

READ: Dr Sindi van Zyl’s obituary

Firefighters injured

At least 129 firefighters had been deployed to the scene.

IOL reported that two firefighters were injured while fighting the blze. The Rhodes Memorial restaurant and Mostert Mill, two iconic Cape Town landmarks were destroyed.

UCT spokesperson, Elijah Moholola, said all academic activities will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday.

“We will provide further updates in due course. We thank all emergency services support staff who have worked with the university, City of Cape Town and SanParks thus far. Our thoughts are with the incredible fire fighters at this time, we wish them strength and endurance as they work tirelessly to extinguish this devastating fire. UCT will provide further updates as and when more information becomes available. Please monitor the UCT website for further information,” he said.

READ: Skhumba almost went blind from using expired anti-biotic eye drops

Donations pour in

He said they were deeply grateful to all the donors who have come forward to supply food and other essential items for the students and everyone who has come forward so generously to provide support and assistance.

“Approximately 4000 meals were prepared for distribution on Sunday evening and further meals will be prepared at Old Mutual’s offices in Pinelands, Cape Town and from there these will be distributed to the locations where our students are accommodated. The necessary arrangements have also been made to cater for our Muslim students. The public is asked to donate any essential items and food which they may wish to contribute at Old Mutual West Campus, 91 Jan Smuts Road, Pinelands, Cape Town. The site is open at 6am on Monday,” he said.

Moholola said counselling services have been offered to students.

An emergency relief fund has been set up:

Account name: UCT Donations Account

Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa

Branch code: Rondebosch Branch, 025009

Account number: 07 152 2387

Swift code: SBZAZAJJ

Donors should please include their name if you so wish to, as well as the purpose/reference for your donation (#UCTFire).

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