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Scaffolding firm says workers smoked at Paris' Notre-Dame

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Christian Fernsby |
Notre Dame Paris
Europe   Notre Dame Paris

A scaffolding firm that has worked on the roof of Notre-Dame said some of its workers had smoked on the site, but ruled out that a cigarette butt might have started the fire.

A spokesman for family-owned Le Bras Freres, confirming a report in French weekly Le Canard Enchaine, told Reuters that some workers of its Europe Echafaudage scaffolding unit had informed police that they had “sometimes” smoked on the scaffolding, despite a smoking ban on the site.

“We condemn it. But the fire started inside the building... so for company Le Bras this is not a hypothesis, it was not a cigarette butt that set Notre-Dame de Paris on fire,” Le Bras Frères spokesman Marc Eskenazi said.

The Canard Enchaine reported that police had found the remains of seven cigarette butts in the burnt-out cathedral.

“This is not wrong,” said a source close to the investigation, who declined all other comment.

Eskenazi said it was impossible to set a log on fire with a cigarette butt and questioned how cigarette butts could have been found on the site.

“If cigarette butts have survived the inferno, I do not know what material they were made of,” he said.

Europe Echaffaudage also ruled out the possibility that the fire might have been started by an electricity incident at one of the two lifts on the site.

“The lifts’ electricity was perfectly within specifications and well maintained,” he said.

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