Notre-Dame Scaffolding Firm Admits Workers Were Smoking, Denies Starting Fire


A scaffolding firm that has worked on the roof of Notre-Dame admitted that some of its workers were smoking on the site, but denied that a cigarette butt might have started the fire that destroyed the Cathedral’s iconic oak-framed roof last week, according to Reuters

A spokesman for family-owned Le Bras Freres, confirming a report in French weekly Le Canard Enchaine, told Reuters that some workers of its Europe Echafaudage scaffolding unit had informed police that they had “sometimes” smoked on the scaffolding, despite a smoking ban on the site. –Reuters

“We condemn it. But the fire started inside the building… so for company Le Bras this is not a hypothesis, it was not a cigarette butt that set Notre-Dame de Paris on fire,” said Le Bras Frères spokesman Marc Eskenazi, who insisted that it would be impossible to set a log on fire with a cigarette butte. He also questioned how cigarette butts could have been found on the site. 

“If cigarette butts have survived the inferno, I do not know what material they were made of,” Eskenazi added. 

Police had found remains of seven cigarette butts in the interior of the burnt-out Cathedral. 

“This is not wrong,” said a source close to the investigation. 

Not electrical?

The company also says that an electrical incident at one of the two on-site lifts couldn’t have caused the blaze. 

“The lifts’ electricity was perfectly within specifications and well maintained,” he said.

He added that the two lifts were on the outside of the building, situated at 45 and 65 metres (71 yards) from the base of the spire, where the first smoke and flames had been spotted and that the workers had cut the power to the lifts at 1750 when they had left the site for the day.

The Canard Enchaine also reported that electrical wiring ran through the roof of the cathedral, but the church administration denied that safety norms had not been respected. –Reuters

Electrical engines were installed in the sound bells of the spire in 2012. 

“Nothing was ever done without the authorisation of the state…There were no wires dangling, everything was properly installed,” said Notre-Dame spokesman Andre Finot, who added that when the first smoke alarm went off, security staff checked things out but did not note anything unusual

“I don’t know whether they might have checked the wrong place,” said Finot, adding that flames were spotted at the base of the fire after a second alert.

According to the report, the Paris prosecutor’s office isn’t ruling out any hypothesis as to the origin of the fire, and are considering all possibilities. 

We wonder if they are analyzing this footage which made the rounds shortly after the fire: 

Or this footage: 

President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre Dame over a five-year period. The Cathedral was built over 200 years starting in the mid-12th century, however the spire was added in the 1800s. 

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