‘Computer glitch’ may have caused the fire that ravaged Notre Dame, the cathedral’s rector says
- Notre Dame’s rector said a ‘computer glitch’ may have caused Monday’s inferno
- Patrick Chauvet said it would be at least ‘two or three months’ to find the cause
- On Thursday, investigators said a short-circuit most likely caused the fire
- On Friday, art experts headed to Notre Dame to remove the remaining works
A ‘computer glitch’ may have been behind the fast-spreading fire that ravaged Notre Dame, the cathedral’s rector said on Friday.
Bishop Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the nature of the cause but said ‘we may find out what happened in two or three months.’
The area surrounding Notre Dame has been cordoned off since the inferno on Monday night, as stones and debris have continued to tumble.
On Thursday, Paris police investigators said they think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire.
Flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday evening
Archbishop of Paris and Dean of Notre-Dame Cathedral Jean-Marc Chauvet makes a speech in front of the Paris city hall on Thursday
The Parisien newspaper has reported that investigators are considering whether the fire could be linked to a computer glitch or related to temporary elevators used in the renovation that was underway at the time the cathedral caught fire.
Chauvet said there were fire alarms throughout the building, which he described as ‘well protected.’
Despite warnings of toxicity from environmental activists, art experts headed into the stricken cathedral to remove all the remaining paintings on Friday.
Officials from the culture ministry were allowed into the 850-year-old landmark to begin retrieving the artworks after fire service officials declared the scorched structure safe enough to go inside.
Firefighters and engineering experts have been working on the fragile landmark since the blaze, erecting scaffolding and other wooden supports to stop any of the stonework collapsing.
‘The paintings inside the cathedral have been saved from the flames and can now be taken down and transported to safe areas,’ France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters at the scene on Friday.
‘All of the paintings will be removed today,’ Riester added, saying that he was feeling ‘very positive’ given how most of the priceless canvasses, many of them dating from the 17th or 18th century, had been saved.
The artworks were taken to the Louvre museum, a centre of restoration, where experts will repair relatively minor damage caused by smoke or water before storing the paintings until they can be returned.
A worker prepares to remove a statue from the damaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Friday
A crane works at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Friday as art experts attended to remove all of the paitings
Statues which sat around the spire of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris avoided destruction as they were stored in SOCRA workshop before restoration
Charlotte Hubert, president of a group of French architects who specialise in historic monuments, told BFM television that experts plan to spread a custom-made peaked tarpaulin across the cathedral’s roof, with enough space to also shield workers rebuilding the frame.
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to set out reconstruction ideas during meetings Friday with officials from the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO.
Macron is moving quickly on the fire-ravaged monument’s reconstruction, which is being viewed both as a push to make it part of his legacy and a way to move past the divisive yellow vest protests over economic issues in France.
A crane works at Notre Dame cathedral on Friday, experts plan to spread a custom-made peaked tarpaulin across the cathedral’s roof, with enough space to also shield workers rebuilding the frame.
Notre Dame’s reconstruction is prompting widespread debate across France, with differing views emerging over whether it should involve new technologies and designs. Macron’s office has, for example, said the president wants a ‘contemporary architectural gesture to be considered’ for the collapsed spire, which wasn’t part of the original cathedral.
Macron hasn’t offered any specifics on his vision for the roof or whether the frame should be wood, metal or concrete, according to his cultural heritage envoy, Stephane Bern. He has named a general, Jean-Louis Georgelin, former chief of staff of the armed forces, to lead the reconstruction effort.
Over $1 billion has already poured in from people from all walks of life around the world to restore Notre Dame.
Judith Kagan, a conservation official at France’s Culture Ministry, said the artworks inside Notre Dame had suffered no major damage from the fire and the pieces were being removed from the building for their protection.
The fire delayed Macron’s long-awaited plans to quell anti-government protests that have marred his presidency. The French leader abandoned a planned TV address to the nation on the evening of the fire, heading to the scene instead and declaring: ‘We will rebuild Notre Dame.’
According to an opinion poll by BVA institute published Friday – the first carried out since the fire – Macron has gained three points in popularity in the past month with an approval rating of 32%. That advance puts him back at the support level of September, before the yellow vest crisis, BVA said.
Although all French polls show that Macron’s popularity has remain depressed since a tax increase on retirees last year, they suggest his party may be ahead in France’s May 26 European Parliament election, with Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, the National Rally, close behind.
Large artworks are seen on a specialised truck after being removed from Notre Dame Cathedral on Friday
Workers stand by wooden planks supporting Notre Dame cathedral on Friday
Macron is now expected to detail his new measures next week. Macron earlier was planning to respond to demonstrators’ concerns over their loss of purchasing power with tax cuts for lower-income households and measures to boost pensions and help single parents.
Despite the destruction of Notre Dame dominating the news in France, a new round of yellow vest protests is planned on Saturday across the country, including in Paris.
In a hopeful development Friday, 180,000 bees being kept in in hives on Notre Dame’s lead roofing were discovered alive.
‘I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn. I thought they had gone with the cathedral,’ Nicolas Geant, the monument’s beekeeper, told the AP.
Geant has looked after the bees since 2013, when they were installed as part of a city-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers.
Since the insects have no lungs, Geant said the CO2 in the fire’s heavy smoke put the bees into a sedated state instead of killing them. He said when bees sense fire they ‘gorge themselves on honey’ and protect their queen. He said European bees never abandon their hives.
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