INVESTIGATIONS into the fire at UCT and Table Mountain are expected to be ready at the end of the month. Supplied
INVESTIGATIONS into the fire at UCT and Table Mountain are expected to be ready at the end of the month. Supplied

Fire report to be ready at the end of the month after devastation on Table Mountain

By Genevieve Serra Time of article published Jun 12, 2021

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Cape Town - Investigations into the fire at UCT and Table Mountain are expected to be ready at the end of the month.

Authorities at UCT confirmed that 90% of students are back on campus at two residence halls that were affected by the fire in April while some are still under repairs.

In April, Environment, Forestry & Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said two separate investigations were under way to determine the cause, the liability and financial impact of the Table Mountain Fire which damaged 600 hectares of land and other historical sites such as the Mill, UCT and Rhodes Memorial.

Creecy said the two independent investigations would be conducted by UCT, and SANParks after 4 000 students were left displaced after the fire.

In May, UCT’s Student Representative Council said donations had helped students during the difficult period.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said they would be releasing the latest information about the investigation once it was ready.

“Investigations are continuing and further updates will be provided as the university gets more information.”

SANParks’ Rey Thakhuli said their report should be made public before the end of the month.

Moholola added that the campus was sticking to Covid-19 regulations in terms of capacity but that most of the students who were displaced in two residences had returned, while further repairs were under way to the HW Pearson building which would be opened soon – and that teaching was still made possible at alternative venues.

“Full repairs to spaces damaged by the fire will take place during the next vacation period. Measures have been put in place to allow some research and teaching to continue in alternative venues.”

He added that only courses that required physical sessions were held at the campus and under strict protocols.

He said safety regulations were in place to determine when another fire was starting and that a team was on patrol 24/7.

“After the fires on campus were extinguished, Campus Protection Services (CPS) assigned a fire-spotting team to patrol Upper Campus and to watch for possible flare-ups in the vegetation along the mountain slope.

“This CPS team is active 24/7 and equipped with fire extinguishing equipment and mobile 1 000-litre water tanks.

“Between April 27-30 this year, the CPS team put out six flare-ups, using the water tanks.

“UCT has inspected all fire alarm and fire suppression systems for possible damage and increased the training of staff in fire extinguishing methods.”

“In addition to removing vegetation and compost from campus property, the university has worked closely with SANParks to remove trees that fell during the fire, while also protecting against soil shift and the possibility of mudslides when the winter rains arrive.

“Barriers, soil sheets and sandbags are being used to prevent mudslides.

“This work is in addition to the clearance of vegetation completed by UCT at the beginning of this year, including the removal of dead pine trees, thousands of alien tree saplings, alien vegetation, as well as the cutting back of the lower limbs and lifting the crown of the row of blue gum trees bordering the top boundary of UCT property and Table Mountain National Park.”

Weekend Argus

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