The Old Brakpan Library, a beacon of knowledge and heritage in the town, was engulfed in a massive fire on Friday evening.
What caused Old Brakpan Library fire?
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Residents of the East Rand down were left in shock as flames ravaged the building, reducing it to ruins.
The fire at the library, which had been declared a heritage site, marks another bleak moment in its history.
Since the opening of the new Brakpan Library, the old building has been a target for vandals and neglected by the municipality.
As early as 2018, reports emerged of the library’s defilement, with vagrants and vandals turning it into their haven.
This neglect culminated in the catastrophic fire that has now left the library in ashes, albeit, the true cause of Friday’s inferno has yet to be assigned culpability to its transient occupants.
The cost of this destruction is not just financial but also historical. The library, which had humble beginnings around 1920, was initially an exclusive domain for municipal employees and councillors before it opened to the public in 1922.
The construction of the original library in 1932 marked a significant chapter in Brakpan’s history, with the library becoming a cherished community asset over the years.
In 2017, the new Brakpan Library opened its doors, built at a cost of R14 million. The new facility, equipped with modern amenities like unlimited WiFi and a state-of-the-art computer lab, was a symbol of progress.
However, the old library, once a pillar of the community, was left to deteriorate, leading to the dire state it found itself in before the fire.
At the time, Ward 97 Councillor Brandon Pretorius expressed his sorrow over the library’s state, lamenting the municipality’s failure to preserve this important heritage site.
“It saddens me to see the library in the state it currently finds itself in, but it does not come as a surprise,” he said.
The councillor had previously raised concerns about the safety and upkeep of the old library, but his appeals for preservation fell on deaf ears.