UCT Library on Fire
UCT Library on fire, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Twitter video screenshot

Over a century of history has gone up in smoke as the University of Cape Town’s library is the latest victim of today’s horrific fire on Table Mountain, South Africa. Other buildings as well as several vehicles have also gone up in flames. According to a witness the fire has now spread to the other side of Devil’s Peak too, but it appears the wind has fortunately started to die down.

WATCH Video of UCT Library in flames.


UCT Professor Anton Eberhard also posted photos of the historic Mostert’s Windmill (1796) which has been another casualty of the fire today, along with the tearoom at Rhodes Memorial Restaurant. The windmill in Mowbray was the only surviving and complete windmill from that era.

According to the Cape Argus, UCT residences and upper campus building are also currently burning.

The fire is believed to have begun at around 08h45 on Sunday morning. Firefighting services, including three helicopters, have been fighting the fire all day.

Evacuate Evacuate! Students evacuated

UCT students were earlier evacuated by emergency services support staff. (Watch video of UCT students evacuation here.) Stranded students have now been housed. Mmusi Maimane’s One SA Movement was one of the first to secure emergency accommodation for some of the students.

UCT said: “PLEASE NOTE: All UCT students have been evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff. We have taken them to pre-determined locations. We will continue to work with & support Sanparks & the City of Cape Town to extinguish this fire. Please stay safe first & foremost.” (However some students have said on Twitter that they have not yet been housed.)

House on fire, Cape Town

There are also reportedly houses on fire in Newlands:

If you would like to help at the Cape Town Fires:

  • Please consider donating to the Volunteer Wildfire Services heroes.
  • Drop off supplies (eg. water, energy drinks, energy bars, light snacks and sandwiches) at Woodstock fire station, Lakeside/Sea Point/Roeland stations. Please do not go to the fire or command line.
  • If you’d like to open your home for students in distress – click here. (Link supplied by Mmusi Maimane)
  • If you are a student who needs somewhere to stay, please click here. (Link supplied by Mmusi Maimane)
  • Spar Rosmead has donation trolleys (and they’re also matching all donations made).
  • Please don’t take video – please stay away from the affected areas and let the firefighters do their job.

UCT Library up in flames video

According to UCT’s website, the University Libraries – a rich storehouse of information – celebrated its centenary in 2005. It was in 1905 that the SA College “set about establishing an organised library on its premises in Orange Street, Cape Town. The seed for the Libraries was first planted in 1829 when the founders of the South African College expressed their determination to establish a library for the use of students and begged the public to donate books and money to this end.”

Heritage and priceless rare books went up in flames today, including the Great IsiXhosa Dictionary…