The Dutch Reformed church in Redelinghuys burned down this morning, leaving the town without cellular reception.
Redelinghuys is a small town in the Bergrivier Local Municipality in the Western Cape province, which is home to around 581 people in 167 households.
The Dutch Reformed church was formed in 1906 and the building which burned down was opened in 1927.
The church housed cellular antennas, base stations and other telecoms equipment belonging to Vodacom, MTN and Openserve.
According to eye witnesses they saw smoke from the church tower early on Tuesday morning where some of the equipment is housed.
West Coast district’s chief fire officer Bertus Senekal said the fire, which completely destroyed the church, could have been started by short-circuit in the tower.
Redelinghuys community leader Billy Claassen told News24 that the church fire left the town without cellphone reception.
The photos below about the fire which destroyed the Dutch Reformed church in Redelinghuys were shared on social media.
MTN SA spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that they are aware of the church fire which resulted in disruption of its network in the area.
“The cause of the fire is yet unknown, authorities are currently investigating,” said O’Sullivan.
“MTN has deployed its technicians to evaluate the impact and will deploy a temporary mobile base station as soon as permission is obtained from the local authority.”
Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told MyBroadband that the investigation to determine the cause of the fire will start as soon as they gain access to the building.
“Authorities have informed us that it is not safe to enter the building at the moment,” said Kennedy.
He assured subscribers in the affected area that Vodacom will do its best to have cellular reception available as soon as possible.
“This includes the possibility of deploying a mobile site in or near the town,” said Kennedy.
“There are dependencies like location and transmission to overcome so it is too early to say by when this could be up and running.”