WATCH | Fire roars through Makhanda threatening Rhodes University residences

Rhodes University residences were threatened by a massive veld fire fuelled by strong, swirling winds on Tuesday night.

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Three residences on the western side of the university were evacuated last night.

The fire started in the industrial area above the city of Makhanda.

All the city’s firefighters were on the scene with Rhodes university’s own water tankers.

Students were evacuated from all upper campus residences by 8pm due to heavy smoke, said RU director of special projects Sue Smailes.

Students were all accounted for. A few had received medical attention for smoke inhalation. Students from upper campus had been paired off with students in residences in lower campus where they would spend the night.

Independent school Kingswood College and the local Hobbiton project had provided mattresses.

Diocesan School for Girls and St Andrew’s College sent their water tankers to assist firefighters.

Local residents and students supplied firefighters with snacks and bottled water.

“As usual our community has pulled together to assist,” said Smailes.

The wind had turned icy cold by 8pm and firefighters seemed to have the blaze closest to the buildings under control.

“Much appreciation to the fire department, our staff, schools and Pick n Pay for their invaluable assistance. I saw so many friends of our university who came out to lend support,” said Rhodes vice-chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

By Adrienne Carlisle

For more on this story get the Daily Dispatch today.

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