Devastating fire in Parliament resumes after lull


The blaze broke out for the second day in a row at the South African Parliament in Cape Town, as firefighters faced a new enemy on Monday evening: high winds that ignited violent flames that were under control several hours ago.

• Read also: South African Parliament destroyed by fire

Late in the evening, rescue services had no idea how long it would take to get through the blaze, which suddenly resumed shortly before 5 p.m. (3 p.m. GMT) with no casualties. A thick plume of smoke sounded the alarm, and within minutes flames were erupting from the windows and roof of the imposing Victorian building.

“The winds make things difficult,” firefighter spokesman Jermaine Karls told AFP, adding that “the fire has resumed on the roof of the National Assembly building”.

The day before, the wooded room with the leather armchairs where the deputies sit had been completely destroyed. “There won’t be a reunion for long,” Carles said.

In this last part of the vast edifice of three buildings built at different times, the firefighters first had to back down on Sunday in the face of the severity of the fire. But they managed to tame the flames overnight, and then they revealed a damp black corpse, the dismal remains of the room.

French press agency

In the morning, the emergency services announced that they had come to the end of the disaster. Night shifts had passed his hand, leaving the scene behind the wheel of trucks to the bravery of passers-by and reporters at the door, in general. But they warned: Inside this hell, the temperature has remained incredibly high in some places, exceeding 100 degrees Celsius.

About sixty firefighters are still active. Machines capable of pumping water to great heights despite the wind reaching the site.

A 49-year-old man was arrested in Parliament on Sunday and charged with “burglary and arson”. He will be brought to justice on Tuesday.

On Sundays, the fire started around five in the morning, in the oldest wing of the building, completed in 1884, with the old rooms covered with precious woods and adorned with rich fabrics. This historic part, which once housed parliamentarians, houses a library and a museum.

The Parliament contains around 4,000 works of art and heritage, some of which date back to the 17th century.

French press agency

There the ceiling was completely destroyed, leaving a great void, but the precious collection of books and works of art appears to have been recovered.

The last building that houses the upper house of parliament, called the National Council of Provinces, remains inaccessible, but aid workers believe the damage will be mainly related to water and smoke leaks. Here, too, invaluable artefacts are preserved.

At noon, a government delegation met with experts and engineers to take stock of the situation and assess the cost of repairs. But the operation was limited for security reasons, and experts attempted to obtain footage of a drone before it was interrupted by the resumption of filming. A first report is expected on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the site on Sunday.

According to investigators, the fire broke out in two separate houses and the automatic fire extinguisher system was not functioning properly due to a water cut.

French press agency

Surveillance cameras showed the detainee was present at around 2 a.m. “But the security agents did not see her until around 6 am when they looked at the screens warning of the smoke,” Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille told AFP.

“There are calls in place, but we didn’t expect it to be this serious,” she added.

Parliament has already been damaged by the fires, which were quickly brought under control in March. Cape Town has been the seat of Parliament since 1910, when the government was installed in Pretoria.

French press agency


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