The Fire

On 18 April 2021 the fire that engulfed Table Mountain impacted several buildings at UCT, including the Jagger Library Reading Room, which was destroyed by fire.


It took more than a day to douse the flames, and all were believed to be lost for two long days until the site was accessed, and the basements were found to be intact, albeit flooded by the huge amounts of water used to douse the fire. This news was met with elation, and plans were established to salvage the basement. It took another two days to make the site ready for access – water was pumped out of the basement, and the roof trusses were removed to stabilize the site.

Key Moments

  • Jagger Reading Room destroyed by fire

    An unexpected natural disaster struck at the heart of UCT Libraries on Sunday 18 April 2021. The Reading Room of the Jagger Library was completely destroyed in a fire that raged across the slopes of Table Mountain. The fire gutted the roof and destroyed the galleries, adjacent stores and offices, as well as archival and published print collections that were kept there.
  • Disaster Recovery planning gets underway

    The first Jagger Salvage Project team meeting took place at an open-air office set up outside the Jagger Library entrance.
  • Visits from high profile delegations

    In the days and weeks following the fire, the Jagger Fire site was visited by UCT and ministerial delegations led by Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng. Some of these delegations included the UCT Chair of Council, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the Western Cape Premier and Mayor of the City of Cape Town.
  • UCT Council surveys the fire damage on upper campus

    UCT’s Chair of Council, Babalwa Ngonyama, visited the Jagger Library site and other affected UCT buildings, days after a mountain fire rampaged across UCT's upper campus.
  • Visit by officials of the Western Cape Provincial Government

    Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde and Dan Plato, previous Mayor of Cape Town visits the UCT's upper campus a day after the fire. They are led by VC Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng to various fire damaged buildings, including the Jagger Library.
Browse all

Photo Albums

Jagger Library Ruins

Jagger Library Memorial

Restoration efforts of teams from university departments and other industries