'Out of control' fire breaks out in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park

Firefighters battle to contain a fire that broke out on the slopes of the Table Mountain in Cape Town. - Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Originally Published: 18 APR 21 12:22 ET

Updated: 18 APR 21 14:34 ET

By Maija-Liisa Ehlinger, Ingrid Formanek and Sarah Dean, CNN

    (CNN) -- An "out of control" fire has broken out in Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park on Sunday, according to South African officials, prompting the evacuation of hikers from the city's most famous landmark.

More than 120 firefighters are battling the massive blaze, and four helicopters have been deployed to help with the efforts, according to a media release shared by a Twitter account associated with the park.

"The fire created its own wind that further increased the rate of spread. The excessive amount of smoke and related updrafts made it impossible for the aerial support to slow the rate of spread," the park added.

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."

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.

The cause of the fire, which broke out on the slope of Table Mountain on Sunday morning is unknown, Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for Cape Town Fire and Rescue told CNN.

Authorities were notified around 8:45 a.m. local (2.45 a.m. ET) and are currently fighting the fire, which is being fanned by wind, Carelse said.

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, Carelse said.

Earlier on Sunday, the National Park's Twitter account requested that onlookers "refrain from entering the area and keep the area clear for emergency vehicles to pass" as the fire was "out of control."

It added that all hikers within the Newlands and Rhodes Memorial area should evacuate with immediate effect.

The Table Mountain is a flat-roofed mountain that overlooks Cape Town, and is a major tourist attraction. The National Park is 25,000 hectares and is home to 8,200 plant species, according to its website.

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