There was no indication of what may have started the mass of flames that could not be contained, though an arrest was made.

Another fire had also broken out in the older wings of parliament in March, but it was quickly contained.
Another fire had also broken out in the older wings of parliament in March, but it was quickly contained. (Reuters)

A major fire has erupted at the South African parliament in Cape Town, completely destroying the building.

An investigation has been opened into the blaze which started at around 0300 GMT on Sunday in the parliament complex's oldest wing, which was completed in 1884 and has wood-panelled rooms.

"The entire chamber where the members sit... has burned down," Moloto Mothapo said, adding that the blaze had still not been extinguished.

No casualties have been reported so far, but President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters at the scene an arrest had been made.

"Someone has been held right now and is being questioned," he said.

The historic building houses a collection of rare books and the original copy of the former Afrikaans national anthem "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" ("The Voice of South Africa"), which was already damaged.

"The entire building has suffered extensively smoke and water damage," Jean-Pierre Smith, Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security said.

After ravaging the older wing of the building, the flames spread to newer parts of the complex which are currently in use.

"Firefighters are currently trying to control the fire in the New Wing, where the fire has affected the National Assembly Chamber," parliamentary spokesman Mothapo told an online news conference earlier in the day.

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town consist of three sections, including the original and oldest building that was completed in 1884.

The newer additions - constructed in the 1920s and 1980s - house the National Assembly.

Another fire had also broken out in the older wings of parliament in March, but it was quickly contained.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies