CAPE TOWN – Wildfire on the slopes of South African Table Mountain forced the University of Cape Town students to evacuate on Sunday as runaway flames set fire to multiple campus buildings and firefighters used helicopters to bombard the area with water.
A firefighter suffered burn wounds and was hospitalized for treatment.
The fire started early Sunday near a memorial to politician Cecil Rhodes on Devils Peak, another part of Cape Town’s mountainous backdrop, before rapidly spreading up the slopes.
Heavy smoke could be seen for miles, some roads were closed, and fire warnings were sent to mountain hikers.
“All UCT students were evacuated from campus by ambulance workers,” the university said in a statement.
Considered among the best on the continent, the university was largely built on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and is located near the source of the fire.
Social media footage showed students lounging on the main street amid smoke fanned by strong winds. Another video tweeted by the local government showed flames in an old building lined with pillars as clouds of smoke rose from its roof.
City officials said they had not asked residents of the popular suburb of Rondesbosch and the surrounding area to evacuate.
“The situation is being monitored and staff will go door to door in case evacuation is required,” officials said.