In South Africa, a fire threatens Cape Town’s city center

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The fire that started Sunday on Table Mountain in South Africa, an iconic summit overlooking Cape Town, was heading towards the center of the city on Monday.

“The fire is not yet under control,” said the spokesperson for the Cape Town firefighters, Jermaine Carelse, in a statement released by the City. Strong winds have so far prevented any aerial intervention and pushed the flames westward, towards the city center, according to the emergency services. Schools in the suburb of Vredehoek, about three kilometers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have been ordered to evacuate.

An investigation into the origin of the fire, which did not claim any victims, has been opened. A suspect has been taken into custody, local authorities said.

“It was chaos”

The fire, which broke out at the foot of Table Mountain on Sunday morning, spread throughout the day at the University of Cape Town (UCT), forcing hundreds of students to flee on foot. “It was just horrible,” a student, Kosmas Joannou, who had to leave his university residence told AFP. The sky “was orange, there were ashes everywhere and everyone was screaming. It was chaos ”.

The African studies section of a 1930s university building and its wooded-floor reading room have been “completely destroyed,” UCT library manager Ujala Satgoor said in a post on Facebook Sunday night. “Part of our precious collections has been lost”.

Photos accompanying the message showed flames and columns of smoke rising from the roof and windows of the building, closed until further notice. Heavy smoke still hung over the deserted UCT campus on Monday.

The fire destroyed part of the restaurant of a monument to British Colonel Cecil Rhodes, as well as houses.