Historic Non-Pareille farm house in Paarl gutted by fire
The historic Non-Pareille farmhouse, previously known as the artist residency in the Dal Josafat valley, burnt to the ground on Saturday night, 29 June 2019. No one was injured. Dereck Peceur, Head: Fire and Rescue Operations at Drakenstein Municipal Fire and Rescue Services says the call was received at 18h07, with the first arriving unit on the scene at 18h13. The fire was brought under control at 19h20 and fully extinguished by 21h21. Peceur says that upon arrival, the fire had already taken hold of the thatched roof but once fire fighting operations commenced, the fire was quickly brought under control. Peceur says that although the Drakenstein Fire and Rescue Services was the primary responder, they were later assisted by Cape Winelands District Municipality and Drakenstein Farm Watch. In total there were three vehicles from Drakenstein Fire and Rescue, a tanker from Cape Winelands District Municipality and two vehicles from Drakenstein Farm Watch.
According to Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp of the Drakenstein Farm Watch volunteer fire brigade, “Our joint efforts, together with the Drakenstein Municipality Fire Department and the Cape Winelands District Municipality Fire Department could not stop the inferno. At around 18h10, the farm watch emergency control centre received a WhatsApp with an emergency call and picture of a distant fire. The sender was George Kirchner, owner of Druk My Niet, a nearby historic farm, now an eco-friendly wine farm, in Paarl, which burnt in 2017. Kirchner knew from experience that no time should be lost,” said Boomkamp.
“The three fire fighting entities launched a big offensive but despite our efforts the entire roof section and thatch and historic beams were lost. The Drakenstein Farm Watch assisted with two 4x4 trucks, each of which carry 8 000 litres and are kitted with two water cannons and one 700-litre skid unit,” Boomkamp said.
The building was managed by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), which was solely responsible for maintenance. In March, the agency expressed its concerns about the deteriorating condition of the building. They said it was “mainly as a result of vandalism and break-ins”.
SAHRA had begun restoration of the building and had undertaken to register the farm with the National Treasury's public-private partnership programme. In May last year, the agency put out a tender inviting quotations from “suitably qualified and experienced professional fire safety engineers for the required services for the restoration of heritage buildings on Non Pareille”. Boomkamp said he was not aware of the tender.
According to the artefacts.co.za website, “the farmhouse was built on land settled in 1690 by Pierre Vivier, brother of the Viviers of Schoongezicht and Goede Rust. From 1802 until well into the 20th century it belonged to the Hugo family.” The H-plan house had neo-classical gables dating to 1826.
Nestled in the Dal Josafat Valley between Paarl and Wellington with the blue purple Drakenstein Mountain as a backdrop, the website described it as having “especially beautiful interior woodwork, which includes doors, ceilings, floors, screen and wall cupboards. The house had been well restored, and the original ground-plan was adhered to with most of the original ceilings, doors and other woodwork being preserved," the website said.
Source: Dereck Peceur, Head: Fire and Rescue Operations at Drakenstein Municipal Fire and Rescue Services and The Sowetan
Pictures by: Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp