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Old 04-18-2019, 05:50 AM
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All it takes is one linseed oil-soaked cotton rag to start a spontaneous fire, so given that one of the companies actively working on the day was an art restoration firm, that's no doubt a probable line of investigation.
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Old 04-18-2019, 05:50 AM
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Thankfully, we French are a forward-looking people. And by forward-looking, I mean backward-looking.

Meet the good people of Guédelon, an experimental archaeology site. Namely, a whole bunch of archaeo professors, students and related nerdmeisters who've been building a medieval castle in the countryside not far from Paris since 1997, using 13th century tech exclusively including in the sourcing of materials. These days the work site has become a mix between an ongoing history experiment and a permanent re-enactment/living history fair à la Colonial Williamsburg : the workers live, work, clothe themselves etc... exclusively the way 13th century people would have and a small ad hoc village has sprung up to support the construction.

<smug>So, yeah, we've already got some gothic architects on the payroll. Haven't y'all ?</smug>
Also, forward-looking enough to have a planted a source of long timber 400 years ago for sailing ships just these occasions.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:31 AM
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Heard on the radio this morning that people are (understandably) becoming very vocal about how, exactly, the rebuilding will proceed...a completely modern style, an old appearance using as many historic building techniques and materials as allowed by modern codes, something that looks like the original but is completely modern underneath... It sounds like the government is moving very quickly with the rebuilding effort, in any case. I still think 5 years is too optimistic though.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:50 AM
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Macron is apparently interested in having it done before the 2024 Olympics. The debate won't be done by then.

As for the "They'd never dare do that!" arguments, I'll merely gesture, with a Gallic shrug, toward the glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:53 AM
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I dunno, from what I heard there's already 600+ million euros in donations pledged for the rebuilding effort (helped no doubt by Macron promising to make them 90% tax deductible - I can smell the financial boondoggle from here...). You can do a lot with that much moolah. Hopefully not too rushed.

I'm in two minds about it, though. On the one hand, it's a lot more money than the palty 6 million that had been budgeted for the renovation. So that's good. OTOH, I fear our much beloved "millionaires and bankers are the only people who really matter" president might get it in his Olympian head that historic monuments could/should be funded exclusively by such patronage and slash the culture budget in turn, which'd be pretty bad - because there's a whole lot of stuff to be preserved and maintained, much of which isn't as sexy or newsworthy as Notre-Dame de Paris. It's cool for a millionaire to have a little plaque in one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, but nobody's going to donate a cent to refurbish some Merovingian sarcophagi tucked away in a museum's basement... or the museum's basement itself, for that matter.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:56 AM
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It's cool for a millionaire to have a little plaque in one of the most famous cathedrals in the world
Poo! In the old days you could get a cameo in a crowd scene in one of the big windows or your face on a statue (just don't forget to pay or you might wind up on a gargoyle. )
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:20 AM
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Poo! In the old days you could get a cameo in a crowd scene in one of the big windows or your face on a statue (just don't forget to pay or you might wind up on a gargoyle. )
Yeah but then only art historians know who the fuck you are 500 years down the line, what's the point ?!
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:25 AM
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Macron is apparently interested in having it done before the 2024 Olympics. The debate won't be done by then.

As for the "They'd never dare do that!" arguments, I'll merely gesture, with a Gallic shrug, toward the glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.
It would be nice to be able to present the newly rebuilt cathedral to the world when it comes to town in summer 2024 (with perhaps a formal ceremony at Easter weekend that year). Someone was quoted in the paper here in the US saying that it will take ten to fifteen years, and that's probably OK too, given the age of the building and the scope of the work.

As for the Louvre pyramid, I M Pei's design was hated locally when it was first suggested but of course now it's accepted, even beloved. It's an anachronism, but it works. I doubt even the original 12th-13th Century cathedral is all of one style, given that styles changed over that period.
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:35 AM
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Huh. Speaking of, you made me realize I have no idea where all that lead ended up.
One wonders whether there were any cases similar to what happens with Reims Cathedral in 1914, when its roof caught fire under German bombardment. Some of the molten lead flowed out through the gargoyles. Several of them are now on display in the (excellent) cathedral museum in the Palais du Tau.
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:37 AM
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Yeah but then only art historians know who the fuck you are 500 years down the line, what's the point ?!
And how many of the locals do you think could read a plaque on the wall in 1200 AD?
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:39 AM
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That upper right picture especially reminds me of corium.
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:41 AM
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Macron is apparently interested in having it done before the 2024 Olympics. The debate won't be done by then.

As for the "They'd never dare do that!" arguments, I'll merely gesture, with a Gallic shrug, toward the glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.
It would be nice to be able to present the newly rebuilt cathedral to the world when it comes to town in summer 2024 (with perhaps a formal ceremony at Easter weekend that year). Someone was quoted in the paper here in the US saying that it will take ten to fifteen years, and that's probably OK too, given the age of the building and the scope of the work.

As for the Louvre pyramid, I M Pei's design was hated locally when it was first suggested but of course now it's accepted, even beloved. It's an anachronism, but it works. I doubt even the original 12th-13th Century cathedral is all of one style, given that styles changed over that period.
Another idea; a few years ago, the Washington Monument had to be closed to repair damage from an earthquake and the entire structure was covered in scaffolding. They wrapped the scaffolding in fabric and illuminated it and that itself was cool to look at (there's a photo here). So if it's possible to get enough scaffolding, the under-repair building can be nice looking.
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Old 04-18-2019, 05:25 PM
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I'm waiting for the design ideas to roll in that have the reconstructed roof covered in solar panels, or perhaps a cell tower incorporated into the steeple. ^_^

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That's so creepy and cool.
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Old 04-18-2019, 08:40 PM
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All it takes is one linseed oil-soaked cotton rag to start a spontaneous fire, so given that one of the companies actively working on the day was an art restoration firm, that's no doubt a probable line of investigation.
Where in the roof would they be doing this?
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:23 AM
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Where in the roof would they be doing this?
They were working on restoring the spire.
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Old 04-19-2019, 12:32 AM
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That's so creepy and cool.
Yeah, it's pretty metal.






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Old 04-19-2019, 01:05 AM
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I for one doubt very much that it's authentic, in the sense of really being part of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. But that is almost beside the point. It's part of the cathedral of Notre Dame, like the art work. I am glad it was saved because it is a relic of the Middle Ages. IYSWIM.
I can't vouch that it's scientifically true, in fact I suspect nobody has taken a full inventory with weights and sizes, but we joke that if you put together all the bits and pieces of wood which claim to come from the Holy Cross, you'd be able to build at least five dozen crosses. There certainly were enough Spears of Roland sold at Roncesvalles to equip both sides at your choice of any Hundred Years' War battle.

But as Shodan says, that's really not the point.
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:30 AM
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As horrible as the damage is, it seems it could have been way worse. The interior walls look OK, and the wooden pews are intact. And it looks like a lot of the stained glass survived. All that suggests to me (to be fair, I don't know what I'm talking about) that the fire stayed mainly on the roof. Kudos to the firefighters!

I'm an atheist, ex-Catholic, and I hope the cathedral can be fully restored.
The primary damage seems to be confined to the roof, and the total loss of the spire.
Of course there is a lot of smoke and water damage, the damage the burning roof and spire did as it fell into the building, and strictly speaking the whole site should be a red-flagged toxic waste site!
Remember that there was some 220 TONS of lead on that roof, of which most melted and a good bit would have vaporized in the heat.

But at this time, my main concern is: Did the stone structure of the building take any significant damage? I.E. is the building still structurally sound, or not? Not just the heat of the fire, but also the mechanical stress of the sudden release of the 750 TON spire collapsing, releasing the load on the supporting walls in an instant.
Stone tends to be even less forgiving than concrete for rebound stress fracturing, and even a concrete building would have suffered from such an event.
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:51 AM
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Remember that there was some 220 TONS of lead on that roof, of which most melted and a good bit would have vaporized in the heat.
The airborne lead will have already blown downwind by now, and solid lead that's in place is not hazardous. Removing the lead can generate dust and fumes, but you manage that by screening off the work area.

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But at this time, my main concern is: Did the stone structure of the building take any significant damage? I.E. is the building still structurally sound, or not? Not just the heat of the fire, but also the mechanical stress of the sudden release of the 750 TON spire collapsing, releasing the load on the supporting walls in an instant.
Stone tends to be even less forgiving than concrete for rebound stress fracturing, and even a concrete building would have suffered from such an event.
The stone was already suffering from the effects of age, weather, air pollution, and loading forces. You are correct, heat is not good for rocks. Currently, those flying buttresses are pushing the walls inward with the force they have always exerted but due to the loss of the roof there is less force counteracting that so indeed the walls are under increased stress. The spire-caused damage is putting those areas at risk. Fire/water damage had weakened part of the bell towers. Emergency bracing and shoring up of the affected areas is already underway.

So far nothing more has fallen down, I hope the workers can keep up with everything that needs attention.
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:28 AM
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Saving the art treasures of ND: https://www.cnn.com/style/article/no...ntl/index.html

One view as to how to go about rebuilding: http://www.cnn.com/style/article/not...hic-cathedral/
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:35 AM
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It was during Harry Truman's presidency. 1948 to 1952. The outside [of the White House] wasn't changed but the entire inside was rebuilt with a completely different floor plan....
Rebuilt, yes, but the floor plan - especially in the public areas - was left mostly the same.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_...nges_in_design
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Old 04-19-2019, 01:10 PM
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It looks like the bees survived. In other news, I never knew that bees did not have lungs.
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Old 04-19-2019, 01:44 PM
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In other news, I never knew that bees did not have lungs.

No insects have lungs. Lungs are a fish thing. (And some snails.)
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Old 04-19-2019, 03:02 PM
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Here's the Onion on April 17:
Investigators Trace Cause Of Notre Dame Fire To Cathedral’s Outdated 12th-Century Electrical System
https://www.theonion.com/investigato...edr-1834116819

Here's the latest theory on April 18:
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An electrical short-circuit most likely sparked the inferno at the Notre Dame Cathedral, a French police official told the Associated Press on Thursday.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...rs/3505452002/
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:37 PM
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Yeah, it's pretty metal.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:25 PM
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Another idea; a few years ago, the Washington Monument had to be closed to repair damage from an earthquake and the entire structure was covered in scaffolding. They wrapped the scaffolding in fabric and illuminated it and that itself was cool to look at (there's a photo here). So if it's possible to get enough scaffolding, the under-repair building can be nice looking.
Remember about 20 years ago when they rebuilt the Statue of Liberty? That was also quite a site.
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:04 PM
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The airborne lead will have already blown downwind by now, and solid lead that's in place is not hazardous.

I looked into it, and the various air pollution monitoring stations in Paris officially stated they haven't recorded notable increases in lead concentrations or fine ash particulates after the fire ; which leads experts to posit that most of it must have precipitated on the Ile de la Cité and surrounding housing quarter but don't really know for absolutely sure yet (because the air monitoring stations are further away and there are none on the island itself).


That being said, while a quick googling reveals that the specter of lead toxicity has already been raised in fringe blogs (including one op-ed I found to have been copy/pasted by a number of other small news sites, wherein the writer claims lead vaporizes at 500°C so make of that what you will) there doesn't seem to be a big fear of contamination of the city at large or the downwind countryside in the pages of the major news outlets. City hall however has promised it will do all it can to protect the workers tasked with clearing the rubble (and I would assume the firefighting crew is being monitored for any signs of lead poisoning as well ?)
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:42 AM
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I'm nowhere near an expert on any of this, but lead is heavy so I wouldn't be surprised at all if the airborne stuff dropped out of the air quickly.

Lead doesn't vaporize at 500 C but it does give off fumes, and that might be what the guy is confused about.
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Old 04-20-2019, 11:55 AM
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I don’t have anything interesting to add. But Notre Dame is a beautiful building and I hope they take the time to rebuild it properly. I am personally in favour of using more modern and fireproof materials if it can be done in a way that looks appropriate. It seems there are so many old or historic buildings with expensive restoration and sprinkler needs which governments don’t want to pay for - like the art gallery in Rio de Janiero - and which are in many ways irreplaceable. I wish the French luck in completing this job, hopefully the stone and windows are not too damaged. But it is better to do the job well than to do it quickly just because there is an Olympics.
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Old 04-20-2019, 03:30 PM
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Absolutely. I hope we don't read in a decade or two of all the things done hurriedly, and badly, just to meet Macron's five-year deadline.
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:46 PM
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As for the Louvre pyramid, I M Pei's design was hated locally when it was first suggested but of course now it's accepted, even beloved. It's an anachronism, but it works.
The pyramid is also the visible above-ground part of the new entry system for the wider museum. Form and function.
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:04 PM
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They were working on restoring the spire.
I've never heard of using linseed oil on structural timbers. Is there a cite available on this?
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Old 04-20-2019, 11:54 PM
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I've never heard of using linseed oil on structural timbers. Is there a cite available on this?
I don't know why you're asking me. I never said anything about linseed oil.

They're saying unofficially that first indications are that it was caused by an electrical fault.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:16 AM
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Absolutely. I hope we don't read in a decade or two of all the things done hurriedly, and badly, just to meet Macron's five-year deadline.
I wouldn't take that too seriously. In five years, probably part of the cathedral will be open to the public, but major restoration work will still be going on. They should be be able to hold a service there by the time of the Olympics, but full restoration will take however much time it takes.

The area around the apse, choir, and ambulatory seems to be little affected. That's the area you need most to hold services. They will stabilize the structure and put up a temporary roof in the next few months.

It was a similar story in medieval times, while cathedrals like this were being built. Part of the building would be in use, while the rest was still being built.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:42 AM
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When I visited France in the 1980's I would stop in at any Gothic or Romanesque church we passed. A lot of them were still under repair from damage done in wars of the early 20th Century. Services and other things kept going on amidst the scaffolding and drop cloths. (Seems in many cases funds for rebuilding were the biggest bottleneck)
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:21 PM
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It was a similar story in medieval times, while cathedrals like this were being built. Part of the building would be in use, while the rest was still being built.
See also : the Sagrada Familia, which will be finished any day now. I'm assured.
(I actually looked it up just now and was surprised they were still actually building it - I could have sworn it was to remain notoriously incomplete for ever, since it's become part of its fame and identity)
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:24 PM
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I've never heard of using linseed oil on structural timbers. Is there a cite available on this?
I think the poster who mentioned linseed oil was just pointing out the hazards of not properly disposing of rags or brushes used with oil-based stains or varnish. A while back we lived near a house which partially burned down from a fire which started when the owners stuffed oil stain soaked rags in an empty paint can in the garage. New construction, too - I don't think they even had a chance to move in yet.
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Old 04-22-2019, 03:06 PM
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I'm nowhere near an expert on any of this, but lead is heavy so I wouldn't be surprised at all if the airborne stuff dropped out of the air quickly.

Lead doesn't vaporize at 500 C but it does give off fumes, and that might be what the guy is confused about.
"Fumes" are airborne particulates. If the fire is hot enough to liquify lead, then the liquid lead will produce vapor in the same way that liquid water will produce water vapor. But as soon as that blend of hot air and hot lead vapor cools down a bit, the lead vapor precipitates into airborne particulate, generally ultrafine (diameter<100 nm). or fine (diameter < 2.5 microns). Whereas the terminal velocity for every-day sized objects like cars, planes, and skydivers is dominated by stagnation pressure, the terminal velocity for ultrafine/fine PM is dominated by air viscosity, which means the stuff falls out of the air much more slowly than you might think: a 100-nm lead particle falls at about 7 millimeters per hour. Basically you need a good rainstorm to knock this stuff out of the air.

In the ideal case, the fire is good and hot, and the resulting buoyant convection causes all of this smoke to go up very high and get dispersed in the atmosphere. The old saw is true: the solution to pollution is dilution. Factories and power plants run into trouble when their chimney isn't tall enough and/or their exhaust isn't hot enough to get their effluent to disperse/mix into the atmosphere. But a good hot fire like Notre Dame, or like the Houston chemical plant fire earlier this month, drives the combustion products high up, allowing them a chance to mix with ambient air and travel downwind out of the city before they start dispersing vertically up and down.
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:55 PM
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I think the poster who mentioned linseed oil was just pointing out the hazards of not properly disposing of rags or brushes used with oil-based stains or varnish. A while back we lived near a house which partially burned down from a fire which started when the owners stuffed oil stain soaked rags in an empty paint can in the garage. New construction, too - I don't think they even had a chance to move in yet.
People doing restoration work would have a significant amount of training in the areas of safety and contaminant mitigation.

And unless someone knows about an electrical issue prior to the fire I don't see how an anonymous source is anything but a WAG prior to someone actually investigating it.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:47 AM
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I've never heard of using linseed oil on structural timbers.
I wasn't referring to the structural timbers myself, I was more thinking art restoration work. The roof in Notre Dame wasn't just an empty space, and one of the companies working there was an art restoration firm. Of course,I don't know what kind of art restoration they were doing, and yes, they doubtless know correct procedures. I just raised it as the kind of thing that can and does happen,that involves no malice and no modern tech. It was exactly the kind of thing strongly suspected in the second Glasgow School of Art fire and that was a proper restoration job too, no doubt by staff trained as you say.

Last edited by MrDibble; 04-23-2019 at 03:50 AM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:51 AM
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Some chemicals are so volatile that even the tiniest slip can result in a problem, even for thoroughly trained employees. My company used to keep a certain kind of brake wash on hand as a solvent; only certain employees were allowed to use it, and those employees were strictly trained on proper use, storage, and disposal methods. Despite this, it wasn't unusual for even the most skilled employees to experience a flash fire while using the stuff. It wouldn't surprise me if we eventually learn that something similar happened in this case.
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Old 04-23-2019, 05:25 PM
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I wasn't referring to the structural timbers myself, I was more thinking art restoration work. The roof in Notre Dame wasn't just an empty space, and one of the companies working there was an art restoration firm. Of course,I don't know what kind of art restoration they were doing, and yes, they doubtless know correct procedures. I just raised it as the kind of thing that can and does happen,that involves no malice and no modern tech. It was exactly the kind of thing strongly suspected in the second Glasgow School of Art fire and that was a proper restoration job too, no doubt by staff trained as you say.
I see the logic for a project that uses Linseed oil . I just don't see it ever used in the attic. There were no fire-breaks in structure. It's existence was a huge fire hazard unto itself.

What's more likely is a fire started from a torch used to install pipe for a fire suppression system. Something like this.

Last edited by Magiver; 04-23-2019 at 05:28 PM.
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