Fire crews worked for a third day to extinguish a wildfire on the slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain on Tuesday as the city came to terms with the damage caused by what officials have described as one of the area’s worst blazes in years. About 90% of the fire had been contained, the Table Mountain National Park authority said, but only after firefighters worked through the night.
Those firefighters faced “extreme circumstances,” said the Working on Fire organization, which specializes in dealing with wildfires and has been helping the city’s fire department. The operation on Table Mountain had now reached the “mop-up” stage, Working on Fire said.
The University of Cape Town campus was one of the first sites to be hit on Sunday and appears to have suffered the most damage. Numerous buildings at the university burned, including part of a near 100-year-old library containing rare books and manuscripts on African studies. The university said some of those “priceless” works had been lost, but it was unclear yet how much.
Other historic buildings nearby, including a 225-year-old windmill and a restaurant near a memorial to British colonial politician Cecil Rhodes, also burned down.
That university must be in a beautiful setting to be so immediately affected by wildfire. But the loss of that library is just gargantuan. Climate change is actually going to have enormous cultural impacts as well, as fire, drought, flood, etc., destroy cultural artifacts and repositories of knowledge. Get ready for more stories like this.