The newspaper "The New York Times" published on Wednesday a research article on the fire at the Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame, on April 15, which noted that a mistake by security personnel delayed 30 minutes the call to the firefighters. According to the details reported by the prestigious media, which he assures has obtained numerous interviews and the review of hundreds of documents, the first "fire" alert jumped on the control panel of the monument at 18.18 local time on 15 April.
The alert led the security employee to contact an intercom with a guard to go check the situation, but this went to the wrong place, and instead of checking the state of the attic of the cathedral, as it should, went to the attic of an adjacent building, the sacristy.
This error, which the newspaper says is not known if it was the result of a confusion in the interpretation of the control panel, or if the guard did not understand well where to go, led to initially thought that it was a false alarm and will try to deactivate the system.
Finally, 25 minutes after discarding the fire, one of the people in charge of the premises gave the order to go to investigate the state of the attic of the cathedral, a margin of time during which the fire had advanced very quickly in an important area. Presence of old wood known as «the forest».
The Times also notes that Notre Dame "was closer to the collapse than people know", and pointed to the bravery and dedication of the firemen, thanks to which the monument, 850 years old, could be saved. "The fact that Notre Dame is still standing is due only to the enormous risks that firefighters ran in the third and fourth hour" of the fire, the newspaper says.
By the time firefighters arrived, it was close to 7pm in Paris, and the cathedral was already engulfed in flames. "It's like starting a 400-meter race several dozen meters behind," deputy director of the Paris fire brigade Jean-Marie Gontier told the Times.
No sprinklers in the attic
The emergency services decided to focus on the north tower, where it was feared that several of the bells could cause the building to be demolished if they were detached from the beams from which they hung. "At that time, it was clear that some firemen were going to enter the cathedral without knowing if they were going to leave again," said Ariel Weil, the mayor of District IV in Paris, where Notre Dame is located.
Although the exact cause of the fire has not yet been established, it has pointed to a possible short circuit or to cigarette butts found on scaffolding, but also to a complicated fire-fighting system that did not meet its objective. "With more than 160 detectors and manual alarms, it seemed sufficiently advanced to detect smoke and send an alert," says the Times, which states that it took more than 6 years to install it and the participation of dozens of experts. There were no in the attic, however, water sprinklers to mitigate a possible fire, or firewall walls that could contain it, and the alarm message was difficult to understand.