Notre-Dame: the scaffolders give their version of the facts

The fires that followed Monday night are those of the cathedral, the scaffolding being equipped only with motion detectors. But the security procedure has been respected, says Marc Eskenazi, who is in charge of AXA’s communication company Europe Echafaudage. We also expect a lot from the camera which fixed the stages of the work and which was installed at the foot of the arrow (where the first flames appeared).

The company engaged in the construction site around the Notre-Dame spire told Reuters that the fire alarm was triggered not by its security device but by the alarms of the cathedral, an element likely to guide the investigation for “involuntary destruction by fire”.

The scaffolding around the spire erected in the nineteenth century by Viollet-le-Duc was equipped with motion detectors, not smoke detectors, rectified Thursday Marc Eskenazi, charged by the insurance company Axa the communication of the company Europe Scaffolding.

Only one team was working that day on the cathedral
A first fire alarm was given at 18:20 Monday but did not detect a fire, said the prosecutor of Paris. Then there was a second at 6:43 pm, during which a fire was found at the level of the frame. The cathedral had meanwhile been evacuated.

The first flames were seen at the foot of the spire added to this Gothic building of the Middle Ages, which does not mean that the fire started there.

The only team working Monday on the cathedral was that of Europe Scaffolding, a subsidiary of the group The Bras Brothers who won the three markets of the restoration site of the upper parts of the spire. According to the prosecutor Rémy Heitz, five companies in total participate in the project.

“If it’s an accident, it’s 90% an electrical trip”
The erection of the scaffolding, which began in December 2017, was about to be completed. It was electrified to power two elevators and lighting, said Wednesday Marc Eskenazi.

“The procedure provides that at the end of the construction site, at the end of the day, the general electricity of the site is cut off, so the elevators and lighting of the scaffolding are cut off, and the key is handed over to the conciergerie of the sacristy. “, he said.

He added:

“Monday evening when leaving, that is exactly what the workers did, the procedure was respected, it was of course duly recorded in the registers, the notebook to this effect, to the sacristy”.

Police source, it is estimated that “if it is an accident, it is 90% an electrical departure, because it is the only source of energy in the building”. It is confirmed from the same source that there was no welding in progress.

“No alarm from Europe Scaffolding has triggered”
No welding tool, no torch, no “hot spot” was present on the site, says Marc Eskenazi. The descent of the workers began at 5:20 pm and 5:50 pm, they were all gone, he said. That’s 30 minutes before the first alert.

From a safety point of view, the external scaffolding did not have an automatic sprinkler, but it was equipped with motion detectors.

“No alarm from Europe Scaffolding has been triggered,” Eskenazi said. “The alarms that went off are alarms from the cathedral, they are not ours.”

A real “photo report” entrusted to the investigators
In addition, a camera pointed at the arrow had been installed to monitor the progress of the site, he said, adding that the recording “timelapse” (potentially accelerated, Ed), potentially valuable, has been given to the investigators.

“Photos were taken every ten minutes from Monday at 2 pm and the camera was entrusted to the criminal brigade by Mr. Le Bras,” he said, reporting a real “report Photo”.

“They can see where the first smoke comes from, where it comes from, I think the film has some interest in the investigation,” he added.

The stories of the people on the construction site overlap
From a police source, it is confirmed that the hearings of the various protagonists – workers, security guards – overlap: the fire was first sighted at the foot of the spire. That does not necessarily mean that’s where the fire started, it says.

For a source close to the site, there is at this stage only one certainty, “the departure of the fire is South side”.

The investigators have not been able to enter the building for the time being due to ongoing security work.

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