Update: Notre Dame Cathedral investigation – Part 1

Update: Notre Dame Cathedral investigation – Part 1

Bottom Line: If you’re familiar with my work you’re familiar with this saying of mine. There are two sides to every story and one side to every fact. I go where the facts take me and we’re still obtaining them in the Notre Dame fire investigation. Here are the developments in the investigation over the past week. 

  • Fire alarm initially activated at 6:21 while mass was being conducted
  • All in the church were evacuated
  • A member of the subcontracted security team investigated the alarm and determined it was in error
  • Clergy and parishioners were allowed back in five minutes later
  • At 6:30 a second alarm went off, the cathedral was again evacuated and investigated
  • The site manager and a security guard who climbed through the attic while searching for the potential fire report identifying the fire emanating from the base of the spire 
  • At 6:51 the fire was called in

First, it’s notable that 30 minutes went by prior to the fire being called in. Who knows how different the outcome might have been if there was greater awareness, concern and sense of urgency? But here’s the first notable fact. The fire’s origin is now known to be the base of the spire. So, let’s continue with the developments in the investigation. 

The first investigated narrative was that equipment from the restoration project accidentally started the fire. What we’ve since learned, confirmed by the contracting company, is that there wasn’t any equipment anywhere near the origin of the fire. The second investigated narrative was that there was a faulty circuit that might have caused the fire. This hasn’t been ruled out however it also isn’t completely consistent with the location/origin of the fire. The most recent narrative is that a worker might have caused the fire with a cigarette butt. The contracting company has admitted that workers did occasionally break the “no smoking” policy in place during restoration project and seven cigarette butts have been found on the premise post-fire. This one seems to have the most potential of the three paths so far but here’s the thing. And this is still a big thing. In the immediate aftermath I checked the policy for the restoration project at Notre Dame. It explicitly stated that work was to end at 5 pm and all workers were to be offsite by 5:30. Details... I’ll pick up that point in part two of this update.

 

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