After the Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames, firefighters have “saved and preserved” the two towers and main structure.
On April 15th around 12:50 p.m. EST, a fire broke out in the attic of the Notre-Dame de Paris. Known as the “forest” because it took a whole forest to build, the cathedral’s wooden frame featured timber from over 50 acres of trees cut nearly 1000 years ago.
Less than an hour later, the entire roof and iconic spire were completely engulfed in flames as over 400 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. The spire, which had been undergoing restorations, collapsed into the vaulted stone ceiling around 1:45 p.m. EST.
By 3 p.m. EST, Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet was unsure if they could stop the fire from spreading. Crowds gathered outside the nearby Saint Julien les Pauvres Church to pray, singing Ave Maria and other hymns as they watched the Notre-Dame smolder.
“We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading. If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be.”
By 5 p.m. EST, Gallet announced the fire was under control: two-thirds of the roof had been destroyed but the main structure and two towers were spared.
“We now believe that the two towers of Notre-Dame have been saved. We now consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved.”
The Paris prosecutors’ office opened an investigation into the fire, led by the Paris Region Judicial Police. The cause remains unknown, but they ruled out arson and terror-related motives and are investigating the “involuntary destruction caused by fire. “No deaths have been reported, but one firefighter was “seriously injured.”
The Holy See Press Office released a statement expressing their “shock and sadness” in the aftermath.
“The Holy See has learned with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, symbol of Christianity, in France and in the world. We express our closeness to the French Catholic and to the people of Paris. We pray for the fire fighters and for all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”
Pope Francis joined Parisians in their sorrow, offering his prayers over the damage to the the “architectural jewel of a collective memory.”
“I join you in your sadness, as well as that of the faithful of your diocese, the inhabitants of Paris and all the other French. Notre-Dame is the architectural jewel of a collective memory, the gathering place for many major events, the witness of the faith and prayer of the Catholics in the city. On these Holy Days when we remember the passion of Jesus, his death and his resurrection, I assure you of my spiritual closeness and my prayer.”
French president Emmanuel Macron announced that France, who owns the Notre-Dame, will launch an national fundraising campaign with the “greatest talents” to raise money to restore the cathedral. As of today, over $700 million Euros have been pledged by businesses and wealthy donors to the efforts.
“Tonight I am sad to see a part of all of us burn.The worst has been avoided, but the battle isn’t fully won yet. We will rebuild. We will rebuild the cathedral together. We will rebuild Notre Dame because this is what the French expect, because this is what our history deserves, because it is our destiny.”
The Notre-Dame Cathedral housed many relics and artifacts, some of whose status remains unknown while others were confirmed safe.
Look below at the first pictures of the cathedral’s interior following the aftermath of the fire.