Ravaged cathedral stabilized
PARIS — Architects and construction workers have stabilized the damaged structure of Notre Dame cathedral, four days after a fast-spreading fire ravaged the iconic Paris building, and firefighters were leaving the site Friday night, a fire service official said.
The promising development came as Notre Dame’s parishioners celebrated Good Friday in a nearby church, praying for the damaged monument and celebrating its rescued relics such as the Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion.
“There is no more risk the edifice’s walls could fall down,” Lt. Col. Gabriel Plus, chief spokesman for the Paris fire service, told The Associated Press. Plus said firefighters have been able to cool down the walls and debris from the roof inside the cathedral, and there are no more “hot points” inside.
“It’s a miracle that the cathedral is still standing, and that all the relics were saved,” he said.
Investigators believe the fire was an accident and are studying multiple factors that could have contributed.
The cathedral’s rector said a “computer glitch” may have played a role in the rapidly spreading blaze that devastated the 850-year-old architectural masterpiece.
Rector Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the exact nature of the glitch. “We may find out what happened in two or three months,” he told local business leaders and construction workers.
Newspaper Le Parisien reported that a computer bug could have misdirected firefighters responding to the initial fire alarm. The unsourced report said investigators are also looking into whether the fire was linked to temporary elevators being used in a renovation that was underway at the time the cathedral caught fire.
The fire burned through the network of enormous centuries-old oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling, dangerously weakening the building. Chauvet said there were fire alarms throughout the building, which he described as “well protected.”
Firefighter spokesman Plus said there could have been “a smoldering fire inside the frame” of the Notre Dame roof that was fueled by the wind.
Paris police investigators said they believe an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire. It’s believed to be one of multiple leads being investigated.
“Is it linked to the renovation work? A human error? The investigation will say,” Plus said.