A fire raged on the sports fields of Groenkloof campus on Wednesday, August 5. The blaze reportedly began at around 13:30. The grass covering of one sports field was completely destroyed, while a second field suffered considerable damage. The fire is believed to have started outside the grounds of the university, possibly coming through the fence on the western side of the campus. Serious damage occurred in the veld in the vicinity of Fountains Circle.
According to Colin Fouché, Director of Security Services for the University of Pretoria, the wind conditions of the day led to the spread of the fire. Though the sports fields were damaged, Fouché says that nothing was damaged that cannot be replaced. He stated that the next rain would help to heal the fields, while there was no damage to other property and no students were harmed.
The fire was contained and doused by university staff wearing full safety gear, as well as the fire department. According to Fouché, the fire’s burning pattern helped to contain the damage.
Several smaller fires burned ahead of the main blaze, creating a buffer that limited further damage. Hours after the main fire had been extinguished, mounds of vegetation still sent out steady streams of smoke over the damaged ground. A smaller fi re in the reeds at the base of the cricket fi eld was left to burn itself out in the course of the afternoon.
Though the cause of the fire has not been determined, Fouché accredits its containment to the staff of Groenkloof campus. They used hoses and fi re extinguishers to contain the flames until the fire could be successfully doused.