Helicopters collecting water from the Molteno reservoir in Oranjezicht yesterday. Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)
Helicopters collecting water from the Molteno reservoir in Oranjezicht yesterday. Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

Nine people taken to hospital for breathing problems as Cape Town roads reopen after fire drama

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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Cape Town – Nine people were taken to hospital with breathing challenges after smoke inhalation and six firefighters sustained injuries while battling the ravaging wildfire on the slopes of Table Mountain.

Eleven structures were damaged, including two properties in the Rosebank area, six buildings at UCT, including the Jagger library, two heritage buildings, among them the Mostert’s Mill and a restaurant at Rhodes Memorial.

The City said on Wednesday morning that all roads have been reopened.

’’As we enter day four of the Rhodes Memorial incident, the fire has now been contained with only sporadic flare-ups in the Deer Park area, which pose no threat,’’ the City said.

’’The downscaling of resources started yesterday evening and only a few fire crews are currently monitoring the situation around the UCT, Philip Kgosana Drive and Deer Park areas. The monitoring operations will continue throughout the week.’’

The blaze broke out on Sunday morning, causing extensive damage to some of UCT’s iconic buildings.

One minister’s residence in Newlands was completely destroyed by the fire on Sunday afternoon. Family members of three members of the executive were evacuated from Walmer Estate properties while the fire came close to Deputy President David Mabuza’s residence.

With the assistance of the police, firefighters brought the fire under control in the area, with no damage.

Carelse said firefighting crews have worked tirelessly and the wind, having died down considerably, has given them some respite.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said despite the wildfire having been largely contained, the danger was not entirely over just yet.

“Our first priority remains fully extinguishing all of the fire lines. Then over the next few days, firefighters will continue to dampen down the affected areas and monitor for flare ups until we are 100% sure the fire is out.

’’Damage assessments will be done as well and once the fire has been extinguished the investigation into the cause of the fire will be conducted,” said Bredell.

The director of the Student Wellness Service at UCT, Dr Memory Muturiki, said the institution has set up satellite medical service points at student accommodation sites across the city to provide health and psychosocial support to affected students. About 4 000 of them were evacuated.

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers said yesterday they were humbled by the number of calls and requests received over the last few days from individuals who want to volunteer.

“Currently, we have an abundant number of volunteers on-site with our teams. Should we require additional support, we will make an official announcement via our respective channels.”

Meanwhile, the case of a 35-year-old Frederick Mhangazo, who was arrested for arson, has been postponed to April 28. Mhangazo appeared yesterday at Cape Town Magistrate’s Court while the other two suspects who evaded arrest are still on the run.

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