April 23, 2024
Cape Town fire: 'Out of control' fire breaks out in Table Mountain National Park

Cape Town fire: ‘Out of control’ fire breaks out in Table Mountain National Park

More than 120 firefighters are battling the massive blaze, and four helicopters have been deployed to help with the efforts, according to a media release shared by a Twitter account associated with the park.

“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,” the park added.

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.”

One woman in the park said she was “trying to outrun the fire” in a video posted on Twitter, which showed a plume of smoke in the background. In a later tweet, Lisette Lombard said she was safe but her car had been “destroyed.”

“Never have I experienced a fire that spread so unpredictably fast. I have so much respect for our firefighters,” she added.

Heavy smoke rises from Table Mountain in Cape Town.

The cause of the fire, which broke out on the slope of Table Mountain on Sunday morning is unknown, Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for Cape Town Fire and Rescue told CNN.

Authorities were notified around 8:45 a.m. local (2.45 a.m. ET) and are currently fighting the fire, which is being fanned by wind, Carelse said.

Hikers were told to evacuate from the area.

The fire spread from the vicinity of Philip Kgosana Drive, which borders table Mountain National Park, to the Rhodes Memorial continuing further towards University of Cape Town buildings, Carelse said.

Earlier on Sunday, the National Park’s Twitter account requested that onlookers “refrain from entering the area and keep the area clear for emergency vehicles to pass” as the fire was “out of control.”

It added that all hikers within the Newlands and Rhodes Memorial area should evacuate with immediate effect.

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.