A fire gutted the Southern Strand library in Cape Town on Saturday, destroying rows of books which students and residents rely on.
All that remained were pieces of mangled metal, glass and a carpet of blackened remains of the library’s collection.
The skeletons of chairs lay askew in the thick pile of destroyed books.
“The damage to the facility is devastating and will leave hundreds of regular users of the facility stranded, while we urgently look to initiate the process of having services restored,” said City of Cape Town councillor Zahid Badroodien after a site visit, in a statement on Twitter.
South Strand Library Update – This morning I visited the library following reports that the facility caught fire in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was heartbreaking to witness the extent of the damage as the fire swept through the entire facility, destroying everything. pic.twitter.com/0R5Rn0KDdU
— Dr Zahid Badroodien (@ZahidBadroodien) February 27, 2021
“The cause of the fire is still unknown at this stage as investigations are ongoing. The City urges any individual with information to report it immediately to law enforcement authorities.”
The library posted on Facebook: “It is with great sadness to inform our patrons that our library burnt down this morning. Books can be returned to any library in the area.”
Badroodien told News24 the emergency call was received at 05:37 on Saturday.
Fire crews from Strand, Somerset West and Sir Lowry’s Pass were dispatched.
“The first arriving officer informed control that the building was well alight,” he said.
The fierce fire was extinguished at 08:02.The South African Police Service was also present.
Libraries have become a refuge for students and schoolchildren in search of a quiet place to study, to use books for projects without paying for it, and to copy notes.
During lockdown, people had to extend their loans of books.
Libraries eventually opened, but with a restricted number of people allowed inside.