Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses Paris Firefighters’ brigade and security forces who took part at the fire extinguishing operations of the Notre Dame of Paris Cathedral fire, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, April 18, 2019. France paid a daylong tribute Thursday to the Paris firefighters who saved the internationally revered Notre Dame Cathedral from collapse and rescued many of its treasures.(Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)

A “computer glitch” may have been behind the fast-spreading fire that ravaged Notre Dame, the cathedral’s rector said Friday, as architects and construction workers tried to figure out how to stabilize the damaged structure and protect it from the elements.

The fire burned through the lattice of enormous oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling, dangerously weakening the building. The surrounding neighbourhood has been blocked off, and stones have continued to tumble off the sides of the cathedral since Monday evening’s devastating blaze.

READ MORE: Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire: police official

Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, rector Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the exact nature of the glitch, adding that “we may find out what happened in two or three months.”

On Thursday, Paris police investigators said they think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire.

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.”

Charlotte Hubert, president of a group of French architects who specialize 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.

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 Notre Dame 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.

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.

___

Thomas Adamson contributed.

Sylvie Corbet And Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses Paris Firefighters’ brigade and security forces who took part at the fire extinguishing operations of the Notre Dame of Paris Cathedral fire, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, April 18, 2019. France paid a daylong tribute Thursday to the Paris firefighters who saved the internationally revered Notre Dame Cathedral from collapse and rescued many of its treasures.(Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)

Just Posted

Military called in to remove inert practice round found in Quesnel industrial park

A maintenance worker mowing the grass found the round, which turned out to no longer be explosive

Ranch Musings: No-till pasture rejuvenation and sivopasture trials

Columnist David Zirnhelt is hosting a field day Aug. 29 in Beaver Valley

Meet Tour de North cyclist Chris Fedoruk

Quesnel man is a community rider with this year’s Cops for Cancer team

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read