fire and destruction

Table Mountain and surrounding areas in flames, large parts of the University of Cape Town and Rhodes Memorial and Mostert’s Mill burned to the ground. All students were evacuated and there are no fatalities, although four firefighters had to be hospitalised.
The air was already thick with smoke by 11h00 yesterday morning over the entire southern suburbs.
I never expected to experience grief at the loss of buildings, but as a student at UCT for over six years and a member of staff for five, I find myself in tears.

Cape Town’s firefighters are incredible, by the way, and, while many people have exhorted those to pray to whomever they choose to believe is in control of things for the fire to stop, I didn’t see anyone resembling god or Jesus or Mohammed or whoever on the back of a fire engine rushing to the scene to help.


18 thoughts on “fire and destruction

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Jane, What I chose to leave out of my blog post is that I knew that Alex and Melvin were going out for lunch yesterday. I was immediately concerned that they may have gone to the Rhodes Memorial restaurant, it’s close to where Melvin lives, as you know, and a very popular place. Karen and I had lunch there last month.
      The restaurant by then was already half gone in flames. Neither of them were answering their phones, and eventually I got hold of Lyndall to try and make contact with her. Turns out they had gone for lunch to somewhere in Tokai so I could calm down. I’ll just say that it was a very stressful hour for me, and sometimes a good cry is an indication of enormous relief!
      Melvin had turned his phone off while they were having lunch, and then deliberately left it off so he could watch the soccer (Arsenal vs Fulham) undisturbed. I can relate to the last bit – soccer is soccer, after all.

  1. Going Batty in Wales

    I have seen very little news these last few days so had no idea this had happened. Just glad you and your loved ones are safe. I understand your distress at losing places that were of significance to you – look after yourself.

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      It’s been tragic to watch. The fire is still going crazy on the other side of the mountain and some people are evacuating their homes. More important than buildings, I know, but it’s a great loss.

  2. insearchofitall

    Oh, Jill!! I saw the small bit of report on our news but did not know you were so close. There are two things I’m terrified of and they are lightning and fire. That kind of fire scares the stuffings out of me and I truly understand your fear and grief over the loss of buildings that represent a huge portion of your life. I also realize that the stuff in my house is just stuff but it all represents some point in memory. We had a brush fire here again Friday 6 miles away and we were on alert…again. Losing everything in my home is a double edged sword. I need to take inventory of all my books, fabric and craft things. Nothing else other than photos matter. Come to think about it, It’s about all that’s in my house. My heart breaks for those that lose their homes and livelihoods to fire. You are entitled to grieve. I’m so sorry to hear about this. I’ll be thinking of you. Hugs, M

  3. katechiconi

    Oh Jill, so heartbreaking… I missed this on the news, being out of action, but I’m so very sorry to hear that such an important and meaningful place has been ravaged. Fire is terrifying, firefighters are magnificent human beings. And while the Mountain will regenerate in time, the University has lost irreplaceable buildings, books and history. So sad. Big hug – no consolation, I know, but Australians know how you’re feeling…

  4. Linne

    Oh, Jill, I was so sorry to read this! I completely understand your feelings of great loss. Fire is so terrible, isn’t it? My oldest sister’s father in law was the fire chief for the city of Calgary, Alberta for many years. He shared a few stories with us . . .

    I wish there was something helpful I could say, but I honestly don’t think anything would help at this time. But I’m thinking about you and hoping they get the fire under control soon, if it hasn’t already happened.

    Sending virtual hugs and much love to you. ~ Linne


    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Fire in a city is terrifying. I’ve only witnessed fires that have happened in rural areas, and those have been frightening enough – even though they usually happen naturally. I was not in an area designated as ‘dangerous’ so there was no need to evacuate, but many people in a suburb called Vredehoek had to do just that during the night yesterday. My good friend’s son, Matthew, is a voluntary firefighter – so I really do know what these guys sacrifice (not personally, of course, I can only imagine the bravery and team spirit and energy required to undertake this kind of work), and I came across a marvellous new item this morning about a group of all-female fire fighters. I’ll add the link here – these women deserve extra RESPECT, in my opinion.


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