Photos, Video Show Fire Raging at South Africa's Parliament Building

A large fire has broken out at South Africa's parliament building, sending plumes of thick smoke over central Cape Town.

About three dozen firefighters began battling the blaze about 5 a.m. local time on Sunday (10 p.m. Saturday, ET) after the flames were spotted by security guards, officials said.

Smoke was seen billowing out the roof of the Houses of Parliament building from about 7:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET).

The building is home to South Africa's National Assembly, which consists of 400 elected members. No one has been injured in the fire, fire officials said.

"The roof has caught fire and the National Assembly building is also on fire," a spokesperson for the city's emergency services told AFP.

Fire at Cape Town
A plume of smoke arises above the Houses of Parliament, behind the St. George's Cathedral, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. Firefighters have been deployed and the cause is unknown. AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Fire at Cape Town
A plume of smoke arises above the Houses of Parliament, behind the St. George's Cathedral, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. Firefighters have been deployed and the cause is unknown. AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Earlier today, JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, told local outlet TimesLive: "The fire has not been contained and reports of cracks in some walls of the building have been confirmed."

The blaze began on third-floor offices and spread to the National Assembly chamber—the lower house—City of Cape Town fire and rescue service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse told reporters.

Later this morning, Patricia de Lille, minister of public works, said the fire had been contained in the upper chamber of National Council—the upper house—but still raged in the National Assembly chamber.

Speaking to reporters, de Lille added: "Currently the fire is in the National Assembly chambers. That is where it is burning right now. We have been able to contain the fire in the chambers of the National Council of Provinces.

"So, we are trying our best for it not to spread further. And I also want to thank the fire teams, they are excellent and they are professional. They are also covering all the risk that might arise out of the fire by removing all gas installations and gas connections in Parliament."

The fire comes hours after the state funeral for Archbishop Desmond Tutu at St. George's Cathedral, which is located close to the Houses of Parliament.

Videos posted on social media showed flames rising out of the building's roof.

Cape Town fire
A plume of smoke arises above the Houses of Parliament, behind the St. George's Cathedral, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Other footage showed smoke rising from downtown Cape Town.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire.

The building consists of three sections, according to Agence France-Presse. The original building was completed in 1884, with more recent additions added in the 1920s and 1980s.

Cape Town fire
A plume of smoke arises above the Houses of Parliament, behind the St. George's Cathedral, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. Firefighters have been deployed and the cause is unknown. AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

The South African Government relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday, after Omicron case numbers dropped significantly.

Government restrictions included an overnight curfew, limits on the selling of alcohol and a cap on the number of people who could gather in public in order to halt the spread of Omicron.

Earlier this year, a huge fire at the University of Cape Town (UTC) damaged or outright destroyed a number of historic artifacts.

The fire tore through the campus library, which contained archives and important book collections, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of students.