- A fire destroyed parts of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in a blaze that lasted more than 12 hours between Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
- Fire officials said the fire was likely an accident, possibly connected to renovations going on within the cathedral.
- While the fire destroyed the cathedral’s spire, its twin bell towers survived the blaze, and a number of precious artifacts were salvaged.
- French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the cathedral, and a number of wealthy entrepreneurs have already donated millions to a reconstruction effort.
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The fire that ravaged the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris overnight was extinguished on Tuesday morning after firefighters battled the blaze for more than 12 hours.
Flames and smoke took down the nearly 900-year-old cathedral’s spire and roof, but the building’s bell towers survived and precious artifacts were saved.
Here’s a breakdown of what was saved, what was lost, and what’s next for the iconic cathedral.
The cathedral’s spire toppled an hour after the fire started.
- REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
An initial fire alert was sounded at 6:20 p.m. on Monday, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said, but a blaze wasn’t discovered at the cathedral until a second alarm sounded at 6:43 p.m., according to the Associated Press.
The blaze started on Notre-Dame’s roof, dubbed “the forest,” because it had been built from thousands of oak trees.
The cathedral was in the midst of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) project to repair the building’s spire, the Associated Press reported. That renovation was part of a larger $150 million euro ($169 million) restoration project.
Firehoses did not have the power to reach the cathedral’s nearly 300-foot-high spire, which toppled an hour into the blaze.
Culture Minister Franck Riester outlined the damage that the building had sustained, while speaking with France Inter. He said that fire brigades and architects were concerned about waterlogged wood inside the cathedral, which could collapse.
“All this is very fragile and it is so finely built,” he explained, “that should any portion collapse, it could disrupt the whole construction.”
Authorities told the Associated Press, however, that the cathedral’s structure and its landmark towers have been saved.
Riester said of the structure: “The main structure is saved but there is still a lot of instability. The situation is still precarious. Last night, as we’ve seen, two thirds of the roof went up in smoke, the spire collapsed into the building, creating a hole in the vault. Last night, the transept crossing collapsed, in addition to much of the northern transept.”
Notre-Dame’s iconic bell towers were spared, and the crown of thorns purportedly worn by Jesus on the cross was saved.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters recovered a number of precious artifacts that were saved from the cathedral.
“Thanks to the @PompiersParis, the police and the municipal agents who tonight made a tremendous human chain to save the works of Notre-Dame,” she tweeted. “The Crown of Thorns, the Tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.”
The Crown of Thorns, which was was purportedly worn by Jesus as he was crucified, has been in the Notre-Dame since the French Revolution.
- REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
The Tunic of Saint Louis was a tunic worn by King Louis IX, who ruled from 1214 to 1270.
Riester told French radio station France Inter that the salvaged artifacts were being held in Paris’ City Hall and would be moved to the Louvre Museum for safekeeping.
As for the cathedral’s architecture, firefighters were able to save much of the structure’s frame, including its twin bell towers.
At least one of the cathedral’s stained-glass rose windows – built between 1225 and 1260 – remained in tact.
The cathedral was also home to an 18th-century organ, which was not burnt by flames but could have water damage.
“The organ is a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes. It has not burnt, but no one can tell whether it has been damaged by water. Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored,” Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told AP.
France wants to rebuild the iconic cathedral.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said there is a long road ahead for Notre-Dame, and that an investigation into the fire would be “long and complex.”
Officials have said the fire was likely an accident and possibly a result of renovation work on the structure.
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild Notre-Dame, and appealed for help in doing so.
A fundraising effort has been launched for reconstruction, with French businessman Bernard Arnault contributing 200 million euros ($226 million).
Businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Salma Hayek, and his father, Francois Pinault, said they would contribute 100 million euros ($113 million) to reconstruction.
In total, more than $677 million had been raised for rebuilding efforts by Tuesday afternoon.
The French government has also said it would launch a global campaign to raise funds for Notre-Dame.
The loss of the Notre-Dame could affect the Paris tourism industry.
Notre-Dame saw more than 12 million visitors each year. Following the fire, thousands of daily visitors will now have to visit other landmarks in Paris instead.
Iconic sites like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Sacré-Cœur could see daily numbers increase as tourists seek out other locations to visit.
Free attractions, like the Maison Victor Hugo, could also see more visitors – Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” immortalized the cathedral in French literature.
Tourism adds some 200 billion euros ($226 billion) to France’s GDP annually, according to the Associated Press.
Monuments are deep-rooted in French history, and residents across the country mourned the loss of the Notre-Dame.
“It is the epicenter of our lives,” President Macron said of the cathedral.
“The burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral has again made us aware that we are bound by something more important and more profound than treaties,” said EU Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday.
- Read more:
- A fearless priest entered the burning Notre-Dame Cathedral to rescue the Crown of Thorns relic – 4 years after tending to victims of the Bataclan terror attack
- The enormous amount of water poured on Notre-Dame to put out the fire could now cause it to collapse
- ‘A cultural tragedy’: Politicians and public figures react to the massive blaze at Notre-Dame
- Notre-Dame Cathedral had been crumbling for decades before it caught fire, and funds to restore it were tied down in a uniquely French bureaucratic mess