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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press photos French President Emmanuel Macron stands at attention Thursday after addressing Paris Firefighters' brigade and security forces who took part in extinguishing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

  • Nearly $1 billion has poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after it was damaged in a massive fire on Monday.

Friday, April 19, 2019 1:00 am

Short-circuit possible cause of fire

Firefighters who saved Notre Dame honored in Paris

Associated Press


St. Patrick's target of arson attempt

NEW YORK – A college philosophy teacher arrested after entering St. Patrick's Cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters had booked a Thursday flight to Rome, the New York Police Department said.

Marc Lamparello, 37, is facing charges including attempted arson and reckless endangerment after his arrest Wednesday night at the New York City landmark, said John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

Two nights before his arrest in New York, police in Newark, New Jersey, arrested Lamparello after he wouldn't leave the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart at closing time after a late Mass.

Salvatore Altomare, a neighbor of Lamporello's parents in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, described the family as “very good people. ... They're real Americans – try to do the right thing.” Lamparello “wasn't weird,” Altomare said, adding that he “seemed like ... a nice guy, walked a straight line.”

PARIS – Paris police investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, a police official said Thursday, as France paid a daylong tribute to the firefighters who saved the world-renowned landmark.

A judicial police official told The Associated Press that investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral Wednesday but don't have a green light to search Notre Dame's charred interior because of ongoing safety hazards.

The cathedral's walls were being shored up with planks, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation.

Investigators so far believe the fire was accidental, and are questioning both cathedral staff and workers who were carrying out renovations. Some 40 people had been questioned by Thursday, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

The police official would not comment on an unsourced report in Le Parisian newspaper that investigators are looking at whether the fire could have been linked to a computer glitch or the temporary elevators used in the renovation work, among other things. The prosecutor's office said only that “all leads must be explored.”

Since the cathedral will be closed to the public for years, the rector of the Catholic parish that worships there has proposed building a temporary structure on the plaza in front of the Gothic-era landmark, and City Hall gave its approval Thursday “subject to technical restraints.”

President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Notre Dame to be restored in five years, in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Restoration specialists have questioned the timeline, with some saying it could take three times that long to rebuild the 850-year-old treasure.

Earlier Thursday, Macron held a ceremony at the Elysee Palace to thank the hundreds of firefighters who battled the fast-moving fire for nine hours starting Monday evening, preventing the structure's destruction and rescuing many of the important relics held inside.

“We've seen before our eyes the right things perfectly organized in a few moments, with responsibility, courage, solidarity and a meticulous organization”, Macron said. “The worst has been avoided.”

The cathedral's lead roof and its soaring spire were destroyed, but Notre Dame's iconic bell towers, rose windows, organ and precious artworks were saved.