BREAKING NEWS: Old Voortrekker school up in flames

LYDENBURG – Two fires raged in and around the town this evening, but one destroyed 166 years of heritage and history.

The Klingbiel nature reserve on the outskirts of the town was engulfed in flames since this afternoon and was still burning by 21:00 this evening.

Yet the fire that caused heartache and disbelief for the residents of this historic town was the fire that spread through the old Voortrekker school on Church street. This historic building, one of the first in town, was built in 1851 and caught fire just before 19:00 this evening.

According to Andre Marx of Sun Security, reaction officers received a panic button from the fuel station across the church. “Officers were immediately dispatched and saw the smoke coming from the old school. I broke the gate of the fence in order for us to gain entry.”

The roof of the building was, however, already in flames. Officers of Sun Security and fire fighters saved what they could from the burning building before the roof collapsed. “We managed to save some chairs, tables, bibles and other historic items before the roof completely gave way. ”

The police were also called out to the scene. Some bystanders to whom the newspaper spoke to are convinced that it could have been arson. Fire fighters managed to extinguish the flames, but the damage to the building had already been severe.

This is probably the oldest pioneer school building north of the Vaal river. The building was declared a National Monument in 1962.

Narda Vermaak

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