Around 200 firefighters have been dispatched to battle the massive blaze, Carelse said, adding that they will work throughout the night to contain the fire and work on the fire line.
The statement said the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant had burnt down and “the fire has also spread to the veld above the University of Cape Town upper campus.”
Six buildings near Woolsack Drive, including the Mostert’s Mill and three structures at the University of Cape Town, were destroyed, Carelse told CNN.
One woman in the park said she was “trying to outrun the fire” in a video posted on Twitter, which showed a plume of smoke in the background. In a later tweet, Lisette Lombard said she was safe but her car had been “destroyed.”
“Never have I experienced a fire that spread so unpredictably fast. I have so much respect for our firefighters,” she added.
According to a statement from South Africa’s National Parks, a “vacated vagrant fire” may have been responsible for the blaze.
“After the initial investigation, it is surmised that the origin of the fire is from a vacated vagrant fire. Due to the extreme Fire Danger Index for today, which is Red with temperatures of 36 degrees noted and an extremely low relative humidity of under 10%, the fire spread rapidly in the direction of Rhodes Memorial,” the statement read.
Days of firefighting ahead
Fanned by wind, the fire spread from the vicinity of Philip Kgosana Drive, which borders table Mountain National Park, to the Rhodes Memorial continuing further towards University of Cape Town buildings, Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for Cape Town Fire and Rescue told CNN.
Authorities were first notified around 8:45 a.m. local (2.45 a.m. ET), he said.
“This is not an easy fire which will probably see firefighters fighting the blaze for at least for (sic) three days,” the release read.
Earlier on Sunday, the National Park’s Twitter account had requested that onlookers “refrain from entering the area” and that all hikers within the Newlands and Rhodes Memorial area evacuate immediately.