The fire (set by who?) caused gas cylinders to explode in the picturesque Rhodes Memorial restaurant on the mountain slopes above the university, which then hugely propelled the flames.
A wind picked up and fire started to get out of control, jumping over a four-lane highway and burning a heritage windmill dating back to Dutch colonialists of 1770, and threatening residence halls.
Science and bio labs were damaged: waiting to hear whether a special ‘global plant repository’ is safe, in its specially-cooled rooms at Plant Conservation Unit.
Sadly, the beautiful 190-year-old Special Collections Library, housing some unique books and manuscripts pertaining to Africa and its colonial history, went up in flames. Certain fire doors were closed in time, so there is hope certain precious documents are saved. But much is lost. How this closed library burned so thoroughly in its interior is suspicious to some, because surrounding buildings did not burn in this fashion.
A wave of Twitter messages celebrating the fire as a cleansing to get rid of ‘all library books written by colonials and imperialists’ has caused some revulsion, but also some suspicion. Messages calling for petrol to be added to fire - and prayers for brisk winds - are seen: arson perhaps not ruled out. During the Fees Must Fall protests that engulfed the campus a few years ago, there were a number of threats to burn the Rhodes Memorial and the library - and both were affected today