Cape Town’s devastating fire, which started on Sunday on Table Mountain near Rhodes Memorial, has spread and is ravaging the mountainside and destroyed historical sites throughout the University of Cape Town (UCT), including the famed UCT African studies library.

Firefighters and emergency services have worked relentlessly while South Africans have pulled together, bringing refreshments to the firefighters and raising funds. During the evening of Sunday, wind spread the fire further.

Destruction to heritage sites and evacuations

Horrific pictures have spread throughout social media showing the extent of the damage. Particularly heartbreaking have been the images of the destruction of the UCT library. Important artworks were also destroyed.

What remains of UCT’s J.W. Jagger Library. Courtesy: Patricia Byrne.

On Monday resident of Vredehoek and Oranjezicht were asked to evacuate their homes.

Cape Town: Resident of Vredehoek and Oranjezicht were asked to evacuate their homes on Monday 19 April, due to the danger of the approaching fire. Source: courtesy.

One suspect in custody as arsonists

The City of Cape Town confirmed that one suspect has been arrested and is in custody on suspicion of starting the fires.

City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security MMC JP Smith confirmed in a press briefing on Monday that residents reported seeing three people moving through the bushes starting fires. Law enforcement was brought onto the scene and when one suspect was questioned he admitted to starting the fire.

Timing of other fires around the country

This terrible tragedy has happened within four days of the horrific fire which destroyed a City of Johannesburg CBD building, killing 9 people including an infant, and within 2 days after the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg which destroyed much of the hospital parking, equipment and PPE supplies.

We await more information as the investigations continue.

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