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French Architect Says Timber Used In Notre Dame Would Not Burn Without Kindling

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French Architect Says Timber Used In Notre Dame Would Not Burn Without Kindling

There is a massive investigation underway to determine the official cause of last week’s fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Authorities have not made an official announcement, but Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz said that his office was “favoring the theory of an accident.”

Still, there are many questions that remain unanswered.

This week, Benjamin Mouton a former chief architect and general inspector of French historical monuments expressed his doubts about how fast he saw the wood burn. Mouton even worked on the Notre Dame Cathedral himself, and has a great deal of experience with the building.

Mouton says that the interior of the building was mostly constructed with old oak, which according to him is very difficult to burn without a lot of kindling.

French Architect Says Timber Used In Notre Dame Would Not Burn Without Kindling 3

A view of the cross and the sculpture ‘Pieta’ by Nicholas Coustou behind debris inside the Notre-Dame de Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral, in Paris, France, 16 April 2019.  Photo Credit: Christophe Petit Tesson Shutterstock

During an interview, a host asked Mouton, “So, you’re telling us that this type of timber doesn’t burn like that?”

Mouton responded by saying, “Oak that is 800-years-old is very hard – try to burn it. Old oak, it is not easy at all. You would need a lot of kindling to succeed… It stupefies me.

One explanation given by authorities is that this was the result of some type of electrical fire, however, Mouton says that this is not possible.

“In the Nineties, we updated all the electrical wiring of Notre Dame. So there is no possibility of a short circuit. We updated to conform with the contemporary norms, even going very far – all the detection and protection systems against fire in the cathedral,” Mouton said.

Mystery still surrounds the incident, considering the fact that some type of open flame or fire would have been needed to start the blaze if it was not electrical. So far, investigators have not announced that any workers were responsible for the fire, and it is not clear that there was even anyone working in that part of the building at the time it occurred. Since there were no deaths or injuries, and it did not seem like anyone had trouble escaping, it is strange that there is no explanation at this point, especially in a building with such high security.

According to the Associated Press, 16 historic statues were removed from the Notre Dame Cathedral just four days before the massive fire that destroyed a large portion of the building.

On April 11th it was reported that “Religious statues set atop Notre Dame Cathedral have come down for the first time in over a century as part of a restoration of the monumental Paris church’s towering spire. A 100-meter-high (105-yard) crane lowered the copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists onto a truck, giving the public a ground-level look for the first time on Thursday. The 3-meter-tall statues are being sent to southwestern France for work that is part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the cathedral spire and its 250 tons of lead.”

At the time of the fire, the cathedral was in the middle of a massive renovation project which was expected to cost at least €150 million or $169 million. Since the fire, donations have poured in from around the world to assist with the building’s restoration. Over a billion dollars has been raised at time of publishing, most of those donations coming from extremely wealthy donors.

Some of these donations were hundreds of millions of dollars, coming from wealthy families behind clothing brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as well as energy and cosmetic companies. Tim Cook of Apple even said that the multi-billion dollar technology company would contribute to the restoration.

The overwhelming charity displayed in the aftermath of the fire brought some backlash from working class people who argued that there were far better uses for the money. As very large portions of the global population is in poverty, and as countless environmental problems need serious attention, billionaires took out their checkbooks to preserve a monument to their cultural dominance, while looking the other way when the rest of the world burns.

David Cohen is a long-time independent journalist and expert in geopolitics, technology and finance. Cohen began his career as an activist, and then began writing articles as a freelancer for numerous websites. Cohen is a native of Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of Cornell University.

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