By Michel Rose and Julie Carriat
PARIS, April 18 (Reuters) - A time lapse camera installed just hours before Monday's devastating blaze at Notre-Dame de Paris may contain vital clues as to what caused the inferno, a French scaffolding company working at the cathedral said on Thursday.
Europe Echafaudage was one of five companies contracted to restore the landmark spire, which was timber-framed and towered 295 feet (90 metres), shaping the skyline along the Seine river. The burning spire collapsed in the blaze, crashing through the Cathedral's ceiling.
The camera is now in the hands of investigators.
"Shots were taken every 10 minutes starting from Monday at 2 p.m.," Marc Eskenazi, a representative for Europe Echafaudage told Reuters. "Smoke can be seen on these images. It starts on the south side," he said.
Although where and how the fire started in the roofing cannot be ascertained from the footage, the location of the first smoke coming out of the spire's base may guide investigators.
"They can clearly see where the first smoke came from for instance, where it's going out from," he said.
The fire consumed Notre-Dame's roof, whose oak beams dated back to the thirteenth century, and sent its incinerated spire crashing through the cathedral's vaulted ceiling.
The damage to one of France's best loved monuments prompted an outpouring of national sorrow and a public desire for quick answers over where and how the blaze started.
Paris public prosecutor Remy Heitz has said the fire appeared accidental. His office did not respond to a request for comment on the time-lapse images photographs.
(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry Writing by Michel Rose Editing by Richard Lough and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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