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.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 17, 2019
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.”
— IndyStar (@indystar) April 17, 2019
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.
In less than an hour, the fire engulfed Notre Dame’s giant spire, which collapsed 13 minutes later; onlookers watched in horror. The French government said 20 firefighters risked their lives to go inside Notre Dame’s two towers and save the Gothic monument https://t.co/UMbnQSsHui pic.twitter.com/tLoqihEb8g
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 17, 2019
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.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 17, 2019
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) April 17, 2019