Paris (CNN)As emergency crews pick through the charred remains of Notre Dame cathedral’s ancient wooden beams, which turned the world-famous site into an inferno on Monday night, focus has turned to the investigation into how the blaze started.

Thirty employees working at the Paris landmark before the fire broke out were interviewed by Paris prosecutors on Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. They included construction workers and Notre Dame security staff. Interviews will resume on Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office said, adding: “Investigations continue to search for the truth and identify the origins and causes of the fire.” On Tuesday, prosecutor Remy Heitz told CNN the cause of the fire was “likely accidental,” and that “nothing shows that it’s an intentional act.”He said police were interviewing witnesses to ascertain what happened. Scrutiny appears to have fallen on the firms undertaking the renovation of the 150-year-old spire, which collapsed Monday as the flames raged around it. Read MoreNotre Dame: Aerial animation shows the damage caused by fireNotre Dame: Aerial animation shows the damage caused by fireNotre Dame: Aerial animation shows the damage caused by fireJUST WATCHEDNotre Dame: Aerial animation shows the damage caused by fireReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Notre Dame: Aerial animation shows the damage caused by fire 00:37Of the four companies contracted to carry out renovations at Notre Dame, only two companies, scaffolding firm Europe Echafaudage and art conservationists Socra, had work in progress there at the time of the fire. Neither company had workers on site when the fire broke out, CNN has learned.According to centraledesmarches.com, a website where private companies can bid for public projects, Europe Echafaudage and its parent company, Le Bras Freres, were awarded contracts worth 3,493,766 euros ($3,951,396) for scaffolding and other services.Coronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameCoronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameCoronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameJulien Le Bras, CEO of Europe Echafaudages, which received a contract to renovate the spire in 2017, told reporters Tuesday that 12 of his employees were working on the project, but that “there were absolutely no workers on site when the fire broke out, and there hadn’t been for quite a while before the fire.”Mark Eskenazi, a PR representative for Le Bras Freres, told CNN the company is speaking to experts about how to take down the scaffolding and “absolutely” denies responsibility for what happened, saying that its workers had left the cathedral one hour before the fire began. He called the fire a “crisis” for the small business of 20 workers. “They are artisans, it is a very small enterprise.” Patrick Palen, a spokesman for Socra, which was brought in to refurbish statuettes from the cathedral, told CNN that workers from the company removed 12 statues of the apostles and four of evangelists from the cathedral last week. Those statues were being held safely in an off-site workshop at the time of the fire. Palen said Socra employees were not at Notre Dame during the fire.The fire was extinguished early Tuesday after nine grueling hours, but not before the cathedral’s roof had fallen in. Two policemen and a firefighter — one of 400 fire personnel deployed to tackle the blaze — were injured during the operation.French Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said Tuesday that experts had identified “some vulnerabilities” in the fabric of the building following the fire. Debris from the roof lies near the altar inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Tuesday, April 16.Debris from the roof lies near the altar inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Tuesday, April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralDebris from the roof lies near the altar inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Tuesday, April 16.Hide Caption 1 of 38Daylight shines through the fallen roof of Notre Dame on April 16.Daylight shines through the fallen roof of Notre Dame on April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralDaylight shines through the fallen roof of Notre Dame on April 16.Hide Caption 2 of 38The interior of Notre Dame is seen in this photo taken April 16.The interior of Notre Dame is seen in this photo taken April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe interior of Notre Dame is seen in this photo taken April 16.Hide Caption 3 of 38A man inspects damage near charred windows.A man inspects damage near charred windows. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA man inspects damage near charred windows.Hide Caption 4 of 38Firefighters exit Notre Dame Cathedral on April 16.Firefighters exit Notre Dame Cathedral on April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFirefighters exit Notre Dame Cathedral on April 16.Hide Caption 5 of 38The burnt out cathedral is seen from the top of the Montparnasse tower the day after the fire.The burnt out cathedral is seen from the top of the Montparnasse tower the day after the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe burnt out cathedral is seen from the top of the Montparnasse tower the day after the fire.Hide Caption 6 of 38A woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire.A woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire.Hide Caption 7 of 38A crane lifts experts as they inspect the damage.A crane lifts experts as they inspect the damage. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA crane lifts experts as they inspect the damage.Hide Caption 8 of 38People take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire.People take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPeople take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire.Hide Caption 9 of 38People stop to view Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday morning.People stop to view Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday morning. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPeople stop to view Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday morning.Hide Caption 10 of 38Fire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday.Fire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday.Hide Caption 11 of 38Members of the fire department inspect the cathedral.Members of the fire department inspect the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralMembers of the fire department inspect the cathedral.Hide Caption 12 of 38Notre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16.Notre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralNotre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16.Hide Caption 13 of 38A handout image photographed on a television screen shows an aerial view of Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on Monday, April 15.A handout image photographed on a television screen shows an aerial view of Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on Monday, April 15. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA handout image photographed on a television screen shows an aerial view of Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on Monday, April 15.Hide Caption 14 of 38French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday evening.French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday evening. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFrench President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday evening.Hide Caption 15 of 38Smoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame Cathedral.Smoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame Cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralSmoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame Cathedral.Hide Caption 16 of 38People pray as Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday evening.People pray as Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday evening. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPeople pray as Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday evening.Hide Caption 17 of 38A firefighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral's roof burns.A firefighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral's roof burns. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA firefighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral’s roof burns.Hide Caption 18 of 38Crowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters' progress.Crowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters' progress. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralCrowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters’ progress.Hide Caption 19 of 38Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past.Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFlames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past.Hide Caption 20 of 38The fire continues to burn into the night.The fire continues to burn into the night. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe fire continues to burn into the night.Hide Caption 21 of 38The interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering.The interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering.Hide Caption 22 of 38Located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.Located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralLocated on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.Hide Caption 23 of 38Smoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15.Smoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralSmoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15.Hide Caption 24 of 38A woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral.A woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral.Hide Caption 25 of 38Smoke billows from the cathedral's roof and spire during the fire.Smoke billows from the cathedral's roof and spire during the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralSmoke billows from the cathedral’s roof and spire during the fire.Hide Caption 26 of 38Passers-by watch the cathedral burn. "It's tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument," bystander Cameron Mitchell <a href="https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/notre-dame-fire/h_f0e87d76f5c736f2e79dffdf7e363b01" target="_blank">told CNN.</a>Passers-by watch the cathedral burn. "It's tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument," bystander Cameron Mitchell <a href="https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/notre-dame-fire/h_f0e87d76f5c736f2e79dffdf7e363b01" target="_blank">told CNN.</a> Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPassers-by watch the cathedral burn. “It’s tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument,” bystander Cameron Mitchell told CNN.Hide Caption 27 of 38Huge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral.Huge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralHuge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral.Hide Caption 28 of 38Firefighters worried the cathedral's two bell towers would be destroyed. Firefighters worried the cathedral's two bell towers would be destroyed. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFirefighters worried the cathedral’s two bell towers would be destroyed. Hide Caption 29 of 38The spire of the landmark cathedral collapses.The spire of the landmark cathedral collapses. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe spire of the landmark cathedral collapses.Hide Caption 30 of 38The cause of the fire was not immediately known.The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe cause of the fire was not immediately known.Hide Caption 31 of 38A man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold.A man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold.Hide Caption 32 of 38The roof of the cathedral burns.The roof of the cathedral burns. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralThe roof of the cathedral burns.Hide Caption 33 of 38Horrified bystanders react to the fire.Horrified bystanders react to the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralHorrified bystanders react to the fire.Hide Caption 34 of 38A firefighter gets closer to the flames.A firefighter gets closer to the flames. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralA firefighter gets closer to the flames.Hide Caption 35 of 38Police urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Police urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPolice urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Hide Caption 36 of 38People gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire's progress.People gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire's progress. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralPeople gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire’s progress.Hide Caption 37 of 38Flames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Flames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame CathedralFlames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Hide Caption 38 of 3834B notre dame fire UNFURLED35 notre dame fire UNFURLED RESTRICTED26 notre dame fire UNFURLED26 notre dame fire UNFURLED08 Notre Dame 041614 Notre Dame 041630 notre dame fire UNFURLED17 Notre Dame 041607 Notre Dame 041606 Notre Dame 041604 Notre Dame 041609 Notre Dame 041603 Notre Dame 041632 notre dame fire UNFURLED29 notre dame fire UNF17 notre dame fire UNFURLED28 notre dame fire UNF22 notre dame fire UNFURLED19 notre dame fire UNFURLED26 notre dame fire UNF RESTRICTED25 notre dame fire UNF31 notre dame fire UNFURLED RESTRICTED10 notre dame fire UNFURLED01b notre dame fire UNFURLED19 notre dame fire 041514 notre dame fire UNFURLED02 notre dame fire UNFURLED06 notre dame fire UNFURLED20 notre dame fire UNFURLED04 notre dame fire UNFURLED03 notre dame fire UNFURLED05 notre dame fire UNFURLED07 notre dame fire UNFURLED11 notre dame fire UNFURLED12 notre dame fire UNFURLED20 notre dame fire 041516 notre dame fire unfurled 21 notre dame fire UNFURLEDRelics and artwork rescuedSecurity guards at the 850-year-old cathedral first heard the fire alarm at 6:20 p.m. local time on Monday, and evacuated the cathedral even though they didn’t see any sign of fire, a spokesman for the Paris Fire Brigade told CNN. The alarm sounded again some 20 minutes later, at which point the cathedral’s security officers noticed the fire, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said.Despite the rapid spread and intensity of the fire, authorities announced that some of the cathedral’s major relics, artifacts and artwork had been rescued. Some of the most valuable artworks are being held at City Hall, while a number of other pieces are being transferred to the Louvre museum.The Crown of Thorns, believed to be a relic of the passion of Christ, and the Tunic of Saint Louis were among the venerated artifacts saved, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said. The copper rooster that sat atop the spire which collapsed in Monday’s blaze has been recovered intact, according to the French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud. It “contains relics for the protection of Paris,” including a spine from the crown of thorns and relics of two Parisian saints, he said on Twitter. French newspaper Le Parisien, citing a source from the Ministry of Culture, said it was as yet unknown if the relics had survived the blaze. Paris terror attack hero helped save Notre Dame artifactsParis terror attack hero helped save Notre Dame artifactsParis terror attack hero helped save Notre Dame artifactsOn Wednesday, France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said France would launch an international architecture competition to reconstruct the spire, saying that the contest “will be organised in due course.” A committee will be set up to oversee the project and will decide whether the spire should be reconstructed or “adapted to modernity,” he said.Philippe did not say if the cathedral would be finished in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but said the work would be done as fast as possible.Outpouring of supportThe show of emotion in the French capital and around the world has been heartfelt. Hundreds attended a vigil Tuesday evening to grieve and sing hymns in tribute to the fire-ravaged cathedral, gathering in Paris’ Place Saint-Michel square, a stone’s throw from the devastated cathedral, after marching from the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Most French political parties have suspended their European election campaigns, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche party. Coronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameCoronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameCoronations, protests and tightrope artists: A visual history of Notre DameMeanwhile, donations towards the restoration have been rising steadily; the total raised so far for the reconstruction of the Gothic masterpiece has topped 800 million euros ($904 million), including gifts of tens of millions of euros from some of France’s wealthiest families. French billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of luxury good consortium LVMH, pledged $200 million, adding to a purse of $55 million promised by the city of Paris. Cosmetics company L’Oréal, along with The Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, has donated 200 million euros ($226 million) to help fund the repairs.Difficult, costly rebuildThe Vatican’s Cultural Minister has said the Vatican will offer technical know-how on rebuilding the cathedral, one of Paris’ most recognizable landmarks and a symbol of French identity. “We have the type of know-how that the whole world recognizes as being of high quality,” Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi told reporters. “So I think an eventual future offer by the Holy See will be significant.” Macron said on Tuesday “we will rebuild Notre Dame to be even more beautiful, and I want that to be done in the next five years,” but some experts say that time line is unrealistic. How to rebuild a Gothic masterpiece like Notre Dame, by people who have done it beforeHow to rebuild a Gothic masterpiece like Notre Dame, by people who have done it beforeHow to rebuild a Gothic masterpiece like Notre Dame, by people who have done it beforeThe full restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral will take “ten to fifteen years”, according to the head of the Group of Companies for the Restoration of Historic Monuments, Frédéric Létoffé. Speaking at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, he said that the site would need to be secured before any restoration work can take place. The reconstruction of the cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in the 12th century, could be also be hindered by a lack of suitable materials. According to Bertrand de Feydeau, Vice-President of the French Heritage Foundation, there are no trees in France large enough to replace the ancient beechwood beams that burned in the fire.

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/17/europe/notre-dame-fire-investigation-intl/index.html

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