Disasters & Accidents

Efforts still underway to extinguish fire at South Africa’s parliament

Johannesburg, Jan 3 (EFE).- Firefighters Monday were fighting to extinguish the remaining active flames at the South African parliament building a day after a major fire broke out and destroyed a large part of the historic structure in Cape Town.

Local media outlets said that although emergency crews brought the blaze under control Sunday night, several fires were still raging and could result in a rekindle.

The temperature of the flames was still around 100C, the local official responsible for security in Cape Town, Jean-Pierre Smith said, adding it was still difficult to determine the true extent of the damage.

Police confirmed Sunday that the person arrested over his alleged connection to the fire will appear in court on Tuesday on theft and arson charges.

The 49-year-old detainee was caught inside the building complex with stolen objects, the security forces said in a statement.

Authorities believe that the fire began in the oldest building in the complex, the Old Assembly, construction of which ended in 1884, later spreading to the newest wing where the National Assembly — the lower house of Parliament — meets and which suffered the most serious damage.

Emergency teams were notified of the fire at about 6.00 am (4.00 GMT) on Sunday.

The minister of public works and infrastructure and former Cape Town mayor, Patricia de Lille, revealed Sunday that not only were fire sensors delayed in detecting the blaze but inside fire suppression sprinklers did not work because the water valve was closed.

Last April, Cape Town’s Table Mountain, one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, caught fire and the blaze that later spread to the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus and destroyed its historical Jagger Library. Thousands of valuable ancient books and manuscripts about the African continent were incinerated.EFE


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