Home LATEST NEWS South Africa: devastating fire in parliament resumes after lull

South Africa: devastating fire in parliament resumes after lull


A thick cloud of smoke rises again from the roofs of the imposing Victorian building and long flames emerge from the rows of windows on the facade, reporters from theFrance Media Agency on the spot.

A few hours earlier, however, the emergency services had declared that they had come to the end of the disaster. The night shifts had passed the hand, leaving the scene at the wheel of the trucks under the bravos of passers-by and journalists posted at the gate, in a general relief. But they had warned: inside this hell, the temperature remained incredibly high in places, beyond 100 degrees Celsius.

Fire resumed in the roof of the building housing the National Assembly.

A quote from Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the city’s firefighters

The day before, the wooded room with leather armchairs where the deputies sit had been totally devastated. There ain’t gonna be a session for a long time, thus summarized Mr. Carelse.

In this most recent part of the vast edifice made up of three buildings dating from different eras, the firefighters first had to retreat on Sunday in the face of the intensity of the fire. But they had succeeded in taming the flames in the course of the night, revealing then a black and soaked carcass, sad remnants of the Chamber.

The wind strengthened and ignited the woodwork on the roof, some parts of which are not accessible with the water lances, explained the rescue. As the day before, some firefighters were trying to calm the flames from the top of a crane. About sixty firefighters are at work.

A 49-year-old man was arrested on Sunday inside Parliament and charged with burglary and arson. He will be presented to justice on Tuesday.

Firefighters at work in Cape Town.

Firefighters are still battling the flames inside Parliament’s precinct in South Africa.

Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham

A heritage building

The fire started around 5 a.m. on Sunday in the oldest wing of the building. This was completed in 1884, and has old rooms covered with precious wood and adorned with rich fabrics. This historic part, which once hosted parliamentarians, houses a bookstore and a museum. The Parliament houses some 4,000 works of art and heritage, some of which date back to the 17th century.

There the roof was completely destroyed, leaving a gaping hole, but the invaluable collection of books and works of art seems to have been spared.

The last building, housing the Upper House of Parliament, called the National Council of Provinces, is still inaccessible, but relief workers believe that the damage will be mainly related to tons of water that have been spilled and smoke. Here too, invaluable artefacts are preserved.

A government delegation met in the middle of the day with experts and engineers, to establish an initial inventory and assess the cost of repairs. But the operation was limited for security reasons and experts tried to obtain images with a drone, before being interrupted by the resumption of fire. A preliminary report is due on Friday.

According to investigators, the fire broke out in two separate homes and the automatic extinguishing system did not work properly because the water was turned off. Surveillance cameras showed the arrested suspect was present around 2 a.m.h, when they looked at the screens alerted by the smoke “,” text “:” But the security only saw it around 6:00, when they looked at the screens alerted by the smoke “}}”>But security didn’t see him until around 6 a.m., when they looked at the screens alerted by the smoke., specified to theFrance Media Agency the Minister of Public Works, Patricia De Lille.

Parliament had already been affected by a quickly contained fire in March. Cape Town has been the seat of Parliament since 1910, with government based in Pretoria. In February 1990, the last white South African president, FW de Klerk, who died in November, announced the end of the racist apartheid regime.

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