France probes possibility of negligence in Notre Dame fire

Elias Hubbard
June 27, 2019

The blaze ripped through the medieval cathedral on April 15, destroying the roof, toppling the spire, and nearly bringing down the main bell towers and outer walls before firefighters brought it under control.

Authorities said that while they have ruled out criminal action, they believe "certain failings" by one or more parties may have contributed to the devastating amount of damage done to the iconic cathedral.

French authorities have no grounds to believe that the fire that wrecked Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral in April was the result of criminal activity, although they are looking into the possibility of negligence, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

"Several hypotheses have caught the attention of the investigators including that of a malfunction of the electrical system or that of a fire caused by a poorly extinguished cigarette", said prosecutor Remy Heitz in a press release.

It was not yet possible to conclude whether an electrical fault or a cigarette is the most likely theory, it added.

"Deeper investigations, using significant expertise, will now be undertaken", it said.

The statement said a preliminary investigation for negligence had been opened, without targeting any single individual.

In April, a spokesman for scaffolding company Le Bras Freres which had been involved in restoration work admitted that workers had smoked on the site from time to time.

Notre Dame Cathedral still standing after a fire that ravaged its roof and destroyed its famous spire.

Richard Marlet, former head of the scientific police in France, told Euronews that investigators will need to carefully examine which electrical circuits were in Notre Dame at the time of the fire.

French President Emmanuel Macron has described the fire as a "terrible tragedy" and set a goal of renovating the building within five years.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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