South Africa Table Mountain: ‘Out of control’ fire breaks out at Cape Town monument

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

“The fire created its own wind which further increased the speed of propagation. The excessive amount of smoke and the associated updrafts prevented the air support from slowing the speed of propagation,” the park added.

The statement said the Rhodes Memorial restaurant burned down and “the fire also spread to the veld above the University of Cape Town upper campus.”

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

“I have never known a fire that has spread in such an unpredictable way. I have so much respect for our firefighters,” she added.

The cause of the blaze, which erupted 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 at around 8:45 a.m. local (2:45 a.m. ET) and are currently fighting the blaze, which is being blown by the wind, Carelse said.

Hikers have been urged to evacuate the area.

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

Earlier Sunday, the national park’s Twitter account demanded that spectators “refrain from entering the area and keep the area clear for emergency vehicles to pass” as the blaze was “out of control.”

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

Table Mountain is a flat-roofed mountain that overlooks Cape Town and is a major tourist attraction. The national park covers 25,000 hectares and is home to 8,200 plant species, according to its website.

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