Wildfires on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain spread to nearby University of Cape Town campus, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of students, officials say.
The blaze spread quickly after breaking out on Sunday morning near a memorial to politician Cecil Rhodes, destroying at least nine structures including a restaurant, and the university’s historic library.
Around 200 firefighters have been dispatched to battle the massive blaze. Two firefighters were injured and admitted to the hospital. Four helicopters are water-bombing the flames.
“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,” according to a tweet from the South African National Parks Table Mountain National Park account.
The statement said the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant had burnt down and “the fire has also spread to the veld above the University of Cape Town upper campus.”
Mostert’s Mill, a historic windmill near the University of Cape Town built around 1796, has also been badly damaged by the fire.
— Claire Berzen (@Claire30184787) April 18, 2021
The Table Mountain is a flat-roofed mountain that overlooks Cape Town, and is a major tourist attraction. The National Park is 25,000 hectares and is home to 8,200 plant species, according to its website.