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The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, have been seriously destroyed by a big fire.

On Sunday, a massive fire ripped through South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town, destroying the roof of one building and gutting the National Assembly chamber. President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a visit to the location and described the incident as “sad and tragic.” Authorities were holding and questioning a 51-year-old guy, according to police.

The fire broke out just after 6:00 a.m. local time (04:00 a.m. GMT) the day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s state funeral at St George’s Cathedral, close to parliament. Mr Ramaphosa described the fire as a “sad blow to what we were relishing in yesterday,” adding that Archbishop Tutu would be devastated as well. He claimed the sprinkler system in the building had failed, and he commended firemen for arriving at the scene in minutes. He claimed that the National Assembly would have been reduced to “ashes” if it hadn’t been for their intervention.

The flames were fought by dozens of firefighters. The entire parliamentary facility was seriously destroyed, according to officials. The roof above the ancient assembly hall was “totally gone,” according to Jean-Pierre Smith, a member of the Cape Town mayoral committee for safety and security, and further damage inside the old chamber had not yet been assessed. He further claimed that the fire alarm in parliament only went off when firefighters were already on the scene.

“It’s impossible to tell if it’s harmed or not. We hope it isn’t because it contains so many historical artifacts, but you can’t go in without smashing down the doors, which we don’t want to do “he stated.

According to the BBC’s Nomsa Maseko in Cape Town, the fire started on the third floor offices and swiftly spread to the National Assembly (the parliament’s lower house) chamber. Our source adds that no injuries have been recorded, and there is no indication of what may have sparked the incident. Because of the carpets and wooden flooring in the building, fire and rescue authorities believe it will take many more hours to totally extinguish the fire.

Because of the holidays, the parliament is currently not in session. The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town are divided into three sections, the first of which was built in 1884. The National Assembly is housed in the newest sections, which were built in the 1920s and 1980s. In the meanwhile, the government is headquartered in Pretoria.

It’s the parliament’s second fire in less than a year. An electrical problem resulted in a fire in March.

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