In a streak of luck, a Central City Improvement District (CCID) guard managed to save the Central Library from going up in flames in the early hours of Monday May 7, but staff discovered a burnt wall in the morning when they arrived at work.
JP Smith, the City’s Mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said the City’s Fire Department had responded to a fire at the library at about 2.14am.
“The cause of the damage was a vagrant making a brazier fire against the entrance wall. The fire was extinguished by bystanders with water prior to the arrival of the fire service.”
The building is owned by the City of Cape Town. Muneeb Hendricks, the security manager at the CCID, said the fire was a result of a homeless person who tried to keep warm, but then accidental set the door and frame alight.
“Luckily, one of our CCID Safety and Security patrol vehicles drove past, noticed the fire and immediately sprung into action.”
And as luck would have it, he said a City of Cape Town water truck transporting non-potable water also drove by at the same time, and the guard requested its assistance.
“Buckets were used to douse the flame before it could do more harm to the building.”
According to Mr Smith, the noticeboard and the wall had been damaged.
He said the City was in the process of fixing the building, and this would be done with an insurance claim.
He did not say how long it would take.
The building is a heritage site, which used to be the Old Drill Hall. In 2004, it was announced that the Central Library, which used to be housed in the City Hall, would move to the Drill Hall. The library moved in 2008.