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Cigarette or an electrical fault 'may have caused' Notre-Dame fire

The famous cathedral caught fire in April of this year.

Inside the cathedral after the fire.
Inside the cathedral after the fire.
Image: Blin Amaury/ABACA

A POORLY STUBBED-out cigarette or an electrical fault could have started the devastating fire that ripped through Paris’ Notre-Dame cathedral in April, French prosecutors said today as they ruled out any criminal intent in the incident.

The statement by prosecutors, which also said an investigation was being opened into possible negligence, was the first official evaluation of the causes of the 15 April fire at the world heritage landmark that shocked France and the world.

But well over two months after the fire, it still offered no concrete conclusions over what caused one of the most catastrophic fires involving a cultural monument in the history of Paris.

French investigators were examining many hypotheses “including a malfunctioning of the electrical system or a fire which started with a badly stubbed-out cigarette”, said a statement.

But it said there was no evidence to back up any theory of “a criminal origin” to the fire. 

The statement, signed by chief Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz, said the preliminary conclusions had been based on 100 interviews with witnesses.

But it emphasised that the investigation had still not identified the actual cause of the fire, even if “certain failures” had been laid bare.

It was not yet possible to conclude whether an electrical fault or a cigarette is the most likely theory, it added.

“Deeper investigations, using significant expertise, will now be undertaken,” it said.

 © – AFP 2019

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