Cape Town fire damages university buildings, forces evacuations

More than 250 firefighters in Cape Town are battling a massive blaze that broke out on the slopes of the city’s Table Mountain on Sunday and spread to a university campus, severely damaging at least three buildings and forcing student residences to be evacuated.

Efforts to douse the flames were hampered by howling winds, with helicopters that are usually deployed to douse the flames unable to fly on Monday. Some residents of the suburbs of Vredehoek and Devil’s Peak were instructed to vacate their homes, schools in the area were shut and several streets were closed to traffic.


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Five firefighters were injured and receiving treatment, but there were no reports of other injuries or any casualties, the Western Cape province said in a statement on Monday. It warned that wind speed was expected to pick up during the day, further frustrating efforts to fight the fire.

The full extent of the damage will be assessed once the fire is brought under control, the city of Cape Town said in a separate statement. The cause of the blaze is being investigated and one person suspected of starting it has been taken into police custody, the city said.

A student residence, a library and the music school at the University of Cape Town were damaged, and students who’d been evacuated were accommodated at hotels in the city. All campuses will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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