UCT Saves Half of Their Damaged Archives

UCT is in the midst of their restoration process after assessing the damaged that were done to their residences, Jagger Library and various other building. They are working with people all over the world to restore the damaged archives after recovering it from the library. UCT is thankful for all the assistance they have received during this time.

Since the fire at the University of Cape Town (UCT), UCT has experienced the loss of a section of their library and damage to their residences and various other buildings across the campus, but the restoration begun as soon as the fire was extinguished and it was declared safe.

In a statement released by UCT they explain the damage in detail and where they’re at with the restoration process.

Jagger Library and Residences

After being declared safe and with the help of 150 volunteers, UCT luckily managed to salvage 50% of the material in the Jagger Library archives. UCT Libraries Executive Director, Ujala Satgoor and Dr. Dale Peters, who was the director of eResearch before she retired last year, teamed up for the conservation of the library’s material.

There was not only fire damage but, also water damage that affected the library and its rare materials. This makes the conservation process of the delicate archives even more difficult. Had this happened in the US, they may have contacted a Mold Damage Restoration Company at the earliest. Perhaps they could have salvaged the archives without any possible damage. Hopefully, the UCT volunteers were able to minimize most of the risks on their own. However, keep in mind the combination of electricity and water could also prove hazardous as they don’t mix. It might also be a good idea to call in an electrician like the ones here, to see if there is anything that could be salvageable and also go with that wire.

UCT has currently installed two cold containers to assist with the freeze-drying process of the archives and they will also be installing a humidifier container.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor of UCT says:

Pick ‘n Pay generously provided us with crates on loan, so that our volunteers could transport the materials with minimal handling. Vehicle transport was also provided by Elliot and Stuttafords and volunteers.

UCT is also working with experts across South Africa, and the world to assist in restoring damaged materials.

As for the damage to the rest of the buildings, UCT is has most of them restored and in full operations.

Smuts Hall and Fuller Hall residences were reopened this morning, with up to 90% of students returning.

They intend on completing the restoration process in the upcoming vacation period.

Going Forward

Since the start of the fire UCT has been vigilant in preventing flare-ups and possibly even more damage than before. The Campus Protection Service (CPS) has taken it upon themselves to work 24 hours with fire extinguishing equipment to prevent any more fires.

Going forward UCT aims to rebuild its campuses in a more environmentally sustainable manner, creating a “greener” campus community.

“Some spaces will remain as close as possible to the previous look and feel of the building, while others – such as Cadbol House, La Grotta and the Jagger Library Reading Room – offer the opportunity for reinventing those spaces, within the constraints of heritage, fire and national building regulations,” says Prof Phakeng.

For all the damage done, the restoration process is said to take months. Maybe solutions of similar caliber to Milwaukee Emergency Restoration Services could lend them a helping hand to expedite the process to get them back on track.

UCT VC says that although the fire is now over we are still in a terrible pandemic and Covid-19 protocols will till be in full measure as the campus returns to its positive state.

UCT thanks Cape Town and everyone who assisted them through this hard time

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