Notre Dame detectives question restorers working on spire

Photo of Notre Dame detectives question restorers working on spire
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Detectives in Paris have been interviewing specialist restorers who were working on Notre Dame Cathedral before fire ripped through the roof.

The blaze was finally extinguished in the early hours of this morning after eight hours, with a criminal enquiry beginning in earnest.

Its focus is currently on Le Bras Freres (Le Bras Brothers), a company based in Jarny, in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department of north-eastern France.

The cathedral was being renovated (Picture: Backgrid)
Notre Dame’s spire collapsed last night(Picture: Getty)
Bystanders look on as flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof (Picture: Getty)

Some of its 200 specialist employees were working on the wooden and lead spire of Notre Dame Cathedral that collapsed on Monday evening.

‘Many of these restorers were interviewed overnight,’ said a source close to the investigation that has been opened into ‘accidental destruction by fire’.

‘The fear is that a small fire began in the roof where they were working, and quickly spread across the building.

‘The irony is that the restorers had just begun working on the spire which collapsed along with much of the roof’.

epa07509101 The spire collapses while flames are burning the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, 15 April 2019. A fire started in the late afternoon in one of the most visited monuments of the French capital. EPA/IAN LANGSDON
Specialist employees had been working on the wooden and lead spire of Notre Dame Cathedral (Picture: EPA)
BGUK_1550709 - ** RIGHTS: ONLY UNITED KINGDOM ** Paris, FRANCE - General Views of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire. A fire erupted at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying the roof and its iconic spire. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, collapsing the spire. The cause is yet unknown but officials said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. Pictured: Notre-Dame Cathedral fire BACKGRID UK 15 APRIL 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: BEST IMAGE / BACKGRID UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
It is hoped that the majority of the 800-year-old structure can be saved (Picture: Backgrid)
epa07508879 Flames on the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, 15 April 2019. A fire started in the late afternoon in one of the most visited monuments of the French capital. EPA/IAN LANGSDON
The cathedral was being renovated at the time of the fire (Picture: EPA)

Le Bras Freres is one of the most respected companies of its kind, and last year finished a widespread restoration programme of Reims Cathedral in eastern France.

It had won the contract to restore the Notre Dame spire that was designed by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and erected in 1859.

They were due to be on site for up to four years along with Europe Scaffolding, another company which had just put 250 tons of scaffolding around Notre Dame, along with a lift that could move up and down the 300ft fire.

Firefighters (L and R) work to extinguish a fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. - A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is
Pictures this morning show the main structure is still standing following the devastating fire (Picture: AFP)
Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
The CEO of the Bras Brothers, said he had no initial comment on the enquiry. (Picture: Reuters)

On Tuesday morning Julie Le Bras, the CEO of the Bras Brothers, said he had no initial comment on the enquiry.

It will focus on the equipment being used by the restorers in a medieval cathedral where light and power sources were limited.

In such circumstances, cables and wires have to be attached to dozens of generators, and hoisted high up on to building.

Paris prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation, and have not yet ruled out any theories for the start of the fire, which blazed from 6.50pm on Monday until 3am on Tuesday.

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