Cape Town locals save girls trapped in school residence fire

A fire destroyed the top floor of a building housing a girls residence in District Six, Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)
A fire destroyed the top floor of a building housing a girls residence in District Six, Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

Local residents came to the rescue of around 20 school girls after another school building caught fire in the District Six area in Cape Town.

City of Cape Town fire and rescue service's Edward Bosch on Wednesday said they had been alerted to the fire just before 16:00 on Wednesday.

The building, on the corner of Nelson and Pontac streets, houses a girls' residence for an Islamic school News24 reported.

Justin Jones was walking past the building, known as the old Rahmaniyeh boarding school, when he noticed smoke billowing out of one of the large windows on the building's east side.

The 29-year-old says he raced to the front entrance on the north side of the building, and frantically pressed the buzzer to alert those inside to what he saw.

He was assisted by other locals, including resident Natasha Edwards.

Cape Town school fire

Firefighters survey the scene after a building housing a girls' residence caught fire in District Six, Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

"They let us in and we tried to go and open the door [leading toward the affected room at the back of the building].

"We couldn't open the door so we broke windows," he told News24 on Wednesday evening.

Jones couldn't count how many girls were trapped in the building, but it was definitely "more than 10".

For his troubles, Jones sustained a minor burn on the side of his head.

He was treated at the scene. No other people were injured.

Cape Town school fire

Justin Jones, 29, was one of the people who came to the assistance of about 20 girls after a residence caught fire in District Six. (Paul Herman, News24)

Edwards told eNCA on Wednesday that she had helped some of the girls out through another gate, and she and Jones took all the girls to neighbouring houses.

She said the fire had come dangerously close to flammable canisters in a side lane on the premises.

A representative for an NGO on the scene couldn't comment on the matter, and referred questions to the principal, who had left the scene by the time News24 had arrived.

Bosch meanwhile said seven firefighting vehicles and a rescue vehicle with 32 firefighters responded to the incident.

"Severe fire damage was caused to the res and office block of the school. No injuries were reported and all the learners were accounted for. The cause of the fire is still under investigation," Bosch said on Wednesday.

The District Six neighbourhood watch was also at the scene.

The fire was contained at about 18:00.

Cape Town school fire

Firefighters at the scene after a building housing a girls' residence caught fire in District Six, Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

This is the second fire in less than a week that has broken out in the area.

Last week, Holy Cross RC Primary School went up in flames, leaving classrooms for three grades damaged.

READ: Holy Cross fire - Community opens hearts and wallets

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