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Impressive fire in South African Parliament: ‘It is a devastating and terrible event’

An impressive fire broke out this Sunday in the South African Parliament and the local police confirmed that a suspect is being questioned about the incident.

“I can confirm that a 51-year-old man was arrested to interrogate him regarding the fire in Parliament, “Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo told local media.

Although the causes of the fire are still unknown, the authorities believe that the fire started in the oldest building in the compound (the “Old Assembly”), whose construction ended in 1884, and later spread to the section that houses the National Assembly, the lower house of the South African Parliament, where the fire put the residents of the area on alert.

According to Jermaine Carelse, a spokesman for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue service, emergency crews were notified of the fire around 6 a.m. (local time).

The fire destroyed much of the building. Photo: Reuter

A first crew of 36 firefighters was forced to call in reinforcements after several hours of unsuccessful work and, later, about 70 troops were deployed in the area.

The president of the country, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the site to assess the damage. “It is an event devastating and terrible, particularly after giving the ‘arch’ (South African affectionate nickname for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu) what I would call the best possible farewell yesterday, “stated the president, referring to the funeral held after Tutu’s death last December 26.

Meanwhile, the Head of Security for the Cape Town City Council, Jean-Pierre Smith, assured that the entire building suffered great damage from smoke and water.

“The roof of the oldest section of the enclosure collapsed”Smith confirmed. The fire also ruined the third floor, including the offices and the gym.

At least 70 firefighters are working on site to combat the flames.  Photo: Reuter

At least 70 firefighters are working on site to combat the flames. Photo: Reuter

Through images shared on social networks, large flames and a huge smoke could be seen rising above the building.

Cape Town already experienced another traumatic fire last April, when the fire broke out on the famous Table Mountain, which is part of the homonymous national park.

The flames later spread to the campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and tore through its historic Jagger Library, burning thousands of valuable ancient books and manuscripts about the African continent.

With information from EFE

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