South Africa parliament fire: Roof collapses, entire floors gutted

Images from the scene revealed flames shooting out of the top of one structure, sending out plumes of thick black smoke into the sky above parliament and into surrounding streets.

The fire broke out on Sunday early morning and more than 12 hours later on, lots of firemens were still working to bring the blaze under control. No injuries or casualties have actually been reported.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated it appeared that a lawn sprinkler “did not work as it was supposed to” which an individual was being questioned by authorities in relation to the fire.

Ramaphosa applauded firemens for working to “stop parliament from being razed to ashes” however stated the fire had “devastated the parliamentary precinct and its contents and assets, including parliament’s historical treasures of heritage.”

JP Smith, a Cape Town mayoral committee member accountable for security and security, informed a press conference outside parliament that “the entire parliamentary complex is severely damaged, waterlogged and smoke damaged.”

“The roof above the Old Assembly hall is completely gone and the offices adjacent to it and the gym are destroyed,” Smith included. “The National Assembly chamber behind me, which you can see, is gutted, the structural ceiling has collapsed and the fire staff had to be momentarily withdrawn.”

Firemens were still actively fighting fires in the parliament’s National Assembly structure on Sunday night, a Cape Town Fire and Rescue Department representative informed CNN. The very first and 2nd floorings of the Old Assembly structure have actually been “completely gutted” by the extreme blaze, and the third-floor roofing of the Old Assembly structure collapsed previously in the day, the representative included.

The parliamentary complex, a few of which goes back to 1884, includes a cluster of structures. The National Assembly, or lower home of parliament, is located in what is called the New Wing. The upper home, or National Council of Provinces, lies in what is called the Old Assembly.

The fire began in the workplace location of the complex prior to infecting the National Assembly chambers. Firemens got to the scene after 6 a.m. and had some problems getting due to the structure’s security functions, Smith stated.

Smith likewise stated the emergency alarm system appeared not to have actually worked correctly, since firemens were on the scene prior to the system sounded the alarm.

“The electricity at the complex did not trip when the fire started. That created a very dangerous situation and the entire block’s electricity had to be disconnected. The fire detection equipment took quite a while to activate, and so the fire was active for a while,” he included.

A raised firefighting platform is moved close to the roof of the National Assembly building in the parliamentary complex.
The fire broke out the day after anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu’s funeral service was held at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, not far from parliament.

President Ramaphosa stated Tutu would have been “devastated as well because [parliament] is a place that he not only supported, prayed for, and wanted to see as the repository of the democracy that he worked so hard for.”

Public Functions and Facilities minister Patricia de Lille earlier informed a press conference outside parliament that there were no reports of injuries.

“This is a very sad day for our democracy because parliament is the home of our democracy and parliament is also a strategic key point,” de Lille stated.

Smith stated Sunday’s blaze was more major than another fire that broke out at parliament in March 2021. In the March event, the fire broke out at the Old Assembly and nobody was hurt.

Eleanor Pickston added to this report.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.