Two firefighters were injured and hospitalized and nine buildings were destroyed in the fire, Jermaine Carelse, spokeswoman for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, told CNN in an email on Sunday.
Around 200 Firefighters have been dispatched to fight the massive fire, Carelse said, adding that they will work all night to contain the fire and work on the fire line.
“The fire generated its own wind, which further increased the rate of spread. The excessive amount of smoke and the associated updrafts made it impossible for air support to slow the rate of spread,” said a tweet from the Table Mountain of South African National Parks National Park Account.
The statement said the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant burned down and “the fire has also spread to the steppes above the University of Cape Town’s upper campus”.
Six buildings near Woolsack Drive, including Mostert’s Mill and three buildings at the University of Cape Town, were destroyed, Carelse told CNN.
According to Carelse, Mostert’s Mill, a historic windmill near the University of Cape Town that was built around 1796, was also badly damaged by the fire.
A woman in the park said in a video posted on Twitter that showed a cloud of smoke in the background that she was “trying to escape the fire”. In a later tweet, Lisette Lombard said she was safe but her car had been “wrecked”.
“I’ve never seen a fire that spread so unpredictably quickly. I have so much respect for our firefighters,” she added.
According to a statement from the South African national parks, a “vacated vagrant fire” could have been responsible for the fire.
“After the first investigation it is assumed that the origin of the fire lies in a tramp fire that has become free. Due to today’s extreme fire risk index, which is red, with temperatures of 36 degrees and an extremely low relative humidity of less than 10 degrees%, the fire spread quickly headed for the Rhodes Memorial, “was the explanation.
Days of fire fighting are ahead
The wind-fueled fire spread from near Philip Kgosana Drive, which borders Table Mountain National Park, to the Rhodes Memorial, which continues towards the University of Cape Town buildings, Cape Town spokeswoman Jermaine Carelse said Fire and Rescue to CNN.
Authorities were first notified around 8:45 a.m. local time (2.45 p.m. CET), he said.
Their battle against the flames could take days, according to a media release shared by a Twitter account associated with the park.
“This is not an easy fire and firefighters are likely to fight the fire for at least three days,” the press release said.
On the previous Sunday, the national park’s Twitter account had urged viewers “not to enter the area” and immediately evacuate all hikers in the Newlands and Rhodes Memorial area.
Table Mountain is a mountain with a flat roof and a view of Cape Town. It is a major tourist attraction. The national park is 25,000 hectares and, according to its website, is home to 8,200 plant species.