Stellenbosch University residence fire: 'It was emotional watching our home go up in smoke'

2019-08-13 13:36
Stellenbosch university Huis ten Bosch residence on fire.(Supplied)

Stellenbosch university Huis ten Bosch residence on fire.(Supplied)

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The primaria at Stellenbosch University's Huis ten Bosch women's residence, Nikita Köhler, has said it was "emotional watching the residence go up in smoke", after a fire broke out on Monday evening.

It is understood that the fire started around 19:30 and was contained about an hour later at 20:30.

According to Annerine Snyman, former editor of student publication Die Matie, the streets surrounding the residence were full of people who wanted to get a view of the fire. 

So big was the fire that, even though it started at the back of the residence, one could still see it while standing in front of the building - which houses 164 students - according to Snyman.

"You could see the red and smoke of the fire from the front of the building. From the front, you could see the sparks and the fire burning quite high," she said.

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen confirmed that students at the residence had all been safely evacuated.

"It’s not only our res, but [our] home which we had to watch on fire," Köhler said.

She added that the extent of the damage was well contained and was not as bad as they had expected, given the size of the blaze. 

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Determination on safety

One student was treated for burn wounds, while another was treated for smoke inhalation. Both students were doing well, according to Viljoen.

An assessor is expected to make an inspection on Tuesday. Together with the university’s facilities management, they will make a determination on when the residence is safe for entry.

Eight rooms on the top floor of the residence were damaged.

Zoë Human, journalist at student publication MatieMedia, who stays at a residence not far from Huis ten Bosch, said upon hearing about the fire, students at her residence had started organising donations for affected students at Huis ten Bosch.

"We were also asked to check whether there were any available rooms to accommodate some of the students. It was really cool seeing people come together in such a trying time," she added. 

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Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  fires

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