Monday, June 17, 2019
Home News Notre-Dame: at the source of a night of flames

Notre-Dame: at the source of a night of flames

From the front, the old lady of 856 years looks intact with its ocher facade and gargoyles that receive the first drops of rain in the morning. But inside, the wind caresses the bowels. After a night of battle, the fire that ignited Notre-Dame cathedral through the roofs was mastered. Two-thirds of the frame, dating from the nineteenthe century on one side, and the XIIIe on the other, are ravaged. A gaping hole marks the location of the arrow, which collapsed. As for the choir of the cathedral, it seems devastated by the debris. If the "treasure" of Our Lady – the crown of thorns of Christ, the tunic of St. Louis, a piece of the cross and a nail of the Passion – could be evacuated and placed in a safe place, firefighters were still advancing carefully during the day of Tuesday. "The firefighters and the architects who are on site are worried because above the arch, there is still water. There is carbonized wood saturated with water and which therefore has a very important weight ", detailed on France Inter Franck Riester, the Minister of Culture.

At dawn, about fifty police officers from the criminal brigade were still waiting for the green light from the authorities to enter the cathedral and make the first findings. Not only large parts of the building, heavily damaged, always threatened to collapse, making the area particularly dangerous, but in addition, the sparks formed by molten metal could fall on the choir at any time.


From the first hours of the violent fire, the Paris public prosecutor's office opened a preliminary investigation, entrusted to the regional director of the judicial police, to "Involuntary destruction by fire". The public prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, accompanied by Christian Sainte, boss of the Parisian PJ, warned Tuesday that the investigations would be "Long and complex". And to add: "At this point, nothing is going in the direction of a voluntary gesture." If the accidental trail appears privileged, the investigators will have to submit to a titanic work of scientific analyzes and examine the hundreds of cubic meters of ashes amassed in the nave. For now, they began interrogations of about fifteen workers from the five companies that worked on the roof of the monument.

"The disaster is of such magnitude that it is possible that we never know exactly what triggered the fire. We will probably have to settle for a bundle of indices, observes a police officer contacted by Release. According to the first working hypotheses, it was in the attic that the flames would have burst, a very difficult place for firefighters since surrounded by scaffolding. Indeed, Notre-Dame was at the heart of extensive renovations. Launched in 2018 and planned over a decade, they included several phases. The week before the fire, the company Europe Echafaudage had mounted 300 tons of structures, but stopped at the foot of the boom. No question of climbing higher, it was necessary to let pass the sixteen imposing statues of the apostles and evangelists surrounding the arrow at its base, so that they are unhooked and restored. What was done Thursday. A giant crane lifted them to the sky, during a spectacular operation filmed and admired by onlookers.

Contacted by Release, Patrick Palem, manager of the company Socra, Périgueux company in charge of the restoration of these works, seemed bluffé by the quality of the scaffolding of 500 000 tubes of steel hoisted to nearly 100 meters of height. "It was very well mounted and it's not always the case," he notes, insisting that he did not collapse on the vaults despite the blaze. Similarly, Julien Le Bras, who heads Le Bras Frères, which owns Europe Echafaudage, has assured BFM TV that all security procedures "Have been respected". If the scaffold itself can not cause a fire, what about the lifts hooked to the structure? "They are on the outside, they do not even touch the roof," sweep Patrick Palem.


On Monday, entrepreneurs embarked on a new stage of renovation. They had to tackle the spire and its 250 tons of lead. Each element was to be deposited, renovated and reassembled: baskets, hooks, pinnacles, gargoyles and columns. What happened then? A priori, the interior of the frame is devoid of any electrical installation, precisely to avoid fires. In any case, it is the memory of two architects, Rémi Fromont and Cédric Trentesaux, when they snuck into the headlampIn 2014. A real trip in "the forestOak, a structure 100 meters long and 13 meters wide in the nave. However, a source close to the survey calls for caution: "We do not know what happened inside. We are completely blind. It is premature and dangerous to draw plans on the comet. It is not impossible that workers brought temporary materials to facilitate certain tasks.This is also the opinion of several experts interviewed by AFP who speculate about a "hot spot", caused by a welding torch, during sealing work, or by the cutting of metals with a grinder, a source of sparks. And to evoke the memorable fire of the roof of the palace of Chaillot, place du Trocadéro, in 1997 after welding and cover work. The hearings of the workers will certainly make it possible to know more about the equipment used and the respect of safety procedures.

Tuesday, while the investigators were just beginning to look into the mysteries of Our Lady, Emmanuel Macron was talking to him, with Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and Pope Francis. He assured him of his support and prayers.

Sibylle Vincendon


Willy The Devin


Julie Brafman



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