Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA
Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Rhodes Memorial wildfire: Latest on firefighting efforts, evacuations and how to donate

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Apr 18, 2021

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Cape Town - The Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) has provided an update on protocol for evacuations, ongoing firefighting efforts and where Capetonians can drop of donations as efforts forge ahead to contain the Rhodes Memorial blaze.

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said that they were alerted to the vegetation fire above Philip Kgosana Drive at about 8.45am this morning.

Working on Fire general manager Melany Duthie-Surtie said the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment, Working on Fire in the Western Cape had dispatched 58 firefighters, four choppers, and a spotter to assist the Table Mountain National Park in the suppression effort of the De Waal Drive fire that broke out this morning.

The cause of the wildfire that gutted part of the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and vegetation is believed to be a vagrant fire, according to Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

TMNP spokesperson Babalwa Dlangamandla said: “After the initial investigation, it is surmised that the origin of the fire is from a vacated vagrant fire.”

As the fire spread towards the university, a fire alarm cued students to evacuate some of their residences. UCT said all students have been evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff, and have taken them to predetermined locations.

UCT said they will continue to work with and support SANParks and the City of Cape Town to extinguish this fire.

Part of the UCT library, residences and upper campus buildings were damaged by the fire.

Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for DRMC, said the City of Cape Town was engaging in active firefighting efforts along with Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and the Volunteer Wildfire Service.

“At this stage, UCT has initiated an evacuation of student residences. The City is working with the university to coordinate alternative accommodation for affected students.

“The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre has not called on any residents to evacuate. The situation is being monitored and staff will go door-to-door in the event that evacuation is required,” Powell said.

“For now, residents are advised to keep doors and windows closed to manage the impact of smoke caused by the fire.”

The City said properties had been affected; however, its focus at the moment was on active firefighting efforts and updates on affected properties would be provided when the information was available.

The DRMC and Fire & Rescue Service will provide updates as the situation unfolds.“

“Furthermore, the public is advised that any donations should be dropped off at the Roeland Street fire station. Donations of water, Energade, energy bars and Eye Gene Eye drops are encouraged.

“Anyone wishing to donate foodstuff is advised that items must be sealed, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols,” Powell said.

Furthermore, the public is advised that any donations should be dropped off at the Roeland Street fire station. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

Gift of the Givers have also come on board to assist those from UCT affected by the fire by preparing meals for 4000 students for this evening.

“UCT has requested Gift of the Givers to manage the feeding and other essentials for the next week whilst accommodation through various hotel groups is urgently sourced. Gift of the Givers will provide three meals a day,” they said in a statement.

“Many corporates including Pick 'n Pay, Woolworths and Engen have called to offer assistance. Old Mutual has made their functions venue available to Gift of the Givers to receive all donations in kind. This will be operational from 8am on Monday.“

The Cape of Good Hope has also urged residents to play a part in helping the animals fleeing the flames.

They said that inspectors at the site of the fire, but that it is too dangerous to enter the area currently.

“We are monitoring the periphery for any animal fleeing the flame and we are deeply concerned for those who may be trapped in the inferno.

“As soon as we are able to, we will be combing the fire ravaged areas for any injured animals which will be brought back to our short term wildlife care facility for treatment.

“Donations of dressings, bandages, Silbecor ointment, coolpacks, fresh fruit and vegetables for the animals and supplies like energy drinks, energy bars and eye drops for the team in the field will be highly appreciated,” the SPCA said.

Capetonians close to the site of the fire, were requested to place shallow plastic containers with water in their gardens for the animals who will be thirsty.

“If you come across an injured animal and it is safe to do so, please place the animal in a covered cardboard box to minimize stress.”

People can call the SPCA on 0833261604, which is operation 24/7.

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