Enormous heat in the roof, easily inflammable building materials and the southeast wind from Cape Town fueled the complete destruction of the new parliament building of the National Assembly overnight, said the fire chief of the city.
The fire re-ignited on Sunday on Monday, driven by strong winds and required the use of high-performance air extinguishers to reinforce existing capacities, Parliament said on Tuesday.
“The firefighters showed a brave and brave fighting spirit for hours last night and were able to start the fire delete by midnight. The reduction in wind speed helped a lot and put the firefighters in an advantageous position to put out the fire. ”
Further damage was caused by more floors in the building housing the offices of MPs and support staff , completely gutted.
The roof of the building in which the flare-up took place was destroyed.
Six out of 10 fire engines were still at the crime scene Tuesday, but are expected to have been withdrawn in the course of the morning.
“With the fire contained, the work of the multidisciplinary engineering team that arrived in Parliament yesterday is expected to carry out an assessment and the scope of the damage will continue, among other things,” said Parliament.
Fire chief and division commander Simon Abrahams said at a press conference that he believes the building can be turned over to authorities when all embers have gone out at the end of the day. From there the police will investigate the forensics of the fire.
Abrahams said after the flare-up on Monday that the new building of the National Assembly had been completely destroyed “from the bottom up”.
In the old National Assembly, the fifth floor – which houses the gym and offices – was destroyed and the floors below, especially the fourth floor, suffered water and smoke damage.
“The fire closed yesterday Destruction of the new building of the National Assembly. It takes a lot of renovation to get back where it was. ”
Abrahams explained how the fire was re-lit.
He said the roof structure was made of bricks Corrugated copper sheet metal.
“[It has] tile outside and a bitumen waterproofing layer underneath. Underneath is a tongue and groove layer made from Oregon pine. It’s a very old building and that’s the type of building material that has been used in the past.
“The bitumen layer is extremely flammable and I was told it was recently replaced so it was even more , and then there was a wooden structure. Since the building is so old, there was probably a lot of dust in it and these are all flammable materials and fuels for fire.
“As soon as the southeast came yesterday, with ventilation and trapped heat inside, the fire started.” < / p>
He said the building was like an oven with the heat locked in the roof and at a temperature of around 200 ° C, which creates pressure.
“The building is today a bit cooler but unsafe for anyone walking in with no safety equipment or no fire fighting experience or structural knowledge. The building will not be declared open until we are satisfied that it is safe enough to enter. ”
He said the artifact room, which contains art and heritage, was intact.