Cape Town blaze almost contained: parks agency

A sweeping fire on South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain that choked Cape Town with smoke and destroyed several historic sites including a university library was almost fully contained on Tuesday, officials said.

High winds had strengthened the blaze that was first spotted Sunday but calmer weather conditions Tuesday allowed for fire crews to ramp up their aerial attack with five helicopters, said Rey Thakhuli, spokesman for South Africa National Parks.

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“Approximately 90 percent of the fire has been contained,” he said in a statement to AFP.

The fire first broke out in the foothills of Table Mountain, a favorite with tourists, and spread to the University of Cape Town (UCT), destroying buildings and forcing students to flee.

At least 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of land were charred, according to the parks agency.

The university library that housed a unique collection of African archives and an 18th century Mostert’s Hill windmill was gutted.

No casualties have been reported so far apart from four firefighters who have been injured.

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