Swift action saves library from fire’s full fury

The Khayelitsha library has been closed until further notice following a fire there on Thursday, February 1.

Khayelitsha library staff have thanked residents and firefighters who helped to contain a fire at the facility, which is now closed until further notice.

The fire started after an explosion in the network server room on Thursday February, according to senior librarian Vuyo Njambatwa-Rani.

She suspects an electrical fault caused the fire, but this has not been confirmed, and the matter is still under investigation.

Ms Njambatwa-Rani said she and a vigilant security guard, Vuyisa Mjuleni, had quickly responded to the situation, and she thanked the firefighters for extinguishing the fire within minutes as well as residents preparing for a meeting in an adjacent hall who had run to help.

“Had it not been for the members of the community and those who were in the hall for their meeting, it would have been a different story now. Maybe the whole building would have been gutted. That is why we have to thank them all.”

Ms Njambatwa-Rani said she hoped the library would be reopened soon.

“It is a sad day for me and my staff but mostly for the people of Khayelitsha. This library serves a huge part of Khayelitsha. I can feel their pain now that we are closed.“

Swift action by Mr Mjuleni had helped to save the library’s books and many other resources, she said.

About 4000 people visited the library each month and it played a key role in community programmes, she said, adding that while the closure would disrupt some of those activities, librarians planned to continue doing outreach work and visiting schools in the area.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross said: “I am saddened that the facility will now be unavailable to its many patrons and programmes which benefit the community. Residents can rest assured that we will do our best to get it back up and running as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, patrons should use the Moses Mabhida, Kulani and Masakhane libraries and call any other library to make a renewal, she said.

The fire started in the network server room, according to senior librarian Vuyo Njambatwa-Rani.
Library security guard Vuyisa Mjuleni has been praised for his swift response to the fire.
Senior librarian Vuyo Njambatwa-Rani points out some of the fire damage.