Company Restoring Paris’s Notre Dame Vows to Investigate Fire Disaster

Company Restoring Paris’s Notre Dame Vows to Investigate Fire Disaster
Restoration company Le Bras Freres founder Julien Le Bras, 32, will cooperate with prosecutors to investigate what caused the Notre Dame's disastrous fire in Paris, on April 16, 2019. (Reuters)
Richard Szabo

The company tasked with restoring Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral before it suffered a disastrous fire on April 15 will cooperate with an investigation by French authorities.

Le Bras Freres, which won the 5 million pound ($6.5 million) contract to repair the spire on the roof, is participating in a long and complex investigation into what sparked the blaze that caused the roof and spire to collapse.

French police have already started to interview the 50 employees who participated in the restoration. Paris Public Prosecutor Remy Heitz believes there is no obvious sign the fire was caused by arson, it could have been an accident, and the incident is officially “involuntary destruction by fire.”

However, Le Bras Freres founder and construction chief Julien Le Bras claims none of his workers were on the site when the fire began.

“All that I can say for the moment, is that from the start of the fire, absolutely none of the workers from my company was present on the site,” Le Bras told Reuters. “All of our partners are working on and participating in this investigation, without any hesitation, without any hesitation. We want more than anyone to shed light on the origin of this tragedy.”

The cathedral spire was destroyed and its roof gutted but the bell towers are still standing and many valuable artworks have been saved thanks to more than 400 firemen who finished containing the blaze 14 hours after it was reported at 6:30 p.m. local time.

The fire ruined the oak roof supports, where builders were completing extensive renovations to the spire’s timber-framed supports. However, the 10-meter (33-foot) filigreed stained-glass rose window is still intact.

One firefighter is recovering from injuries and the building remains closed to the public.

Investigators will have to postpone entering the middle of the cathedral until experts are satisfied its walls withstood the heat and the building is structurally sound.

A witness to the Notre Dame fire was relieved the 850-year-old building was still standing despite the disaster.

“We thought the whole cathedral would collapse. Yet this morning she is still standing, valiant, despite everything,” said Sister Marie Aimee who escaped as the flames spread.

French President Emmanuel Macron promises the cathedral will be rebuilt and look even better.

“We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it,” he said. “It is up to us to convert this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project.”

The president visited the Notre Dame on April 15 and donations have poured in from billionaires, businesses, and local authorities to help rebuild the national monument.

Within 24 hours of the fire, more than 750 million euros ($846.4 million) was pledged, including 500 million euros ($564.3 million) from three billionaire families that own luxury product empires Kering, LVMH, and L'Oreal.

Richard Szabo is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years' experience in news writing at mainstream and niche media organizations. He has a specialty in business, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare reporting.
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