Monday, April 15, horror struck the hearts of many around the world. One of Paris’s most visited landmarks, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, was scorched by a fire which eventually caused the roof to collapse. Onlookers were horrified as the renowned spire crumbled to join the rest of the embers from the burned roof.
According to The New York Times, about 500 firefighters fought the flames engulfing the Cathedral for almost five hours. Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet confirmed that by 11 p.m. in Paris, the structure had been “saved and preserved as a whole,” meaning that while two-thirds of the wooden roof, nicknamed “the Forest,” had been destroyed, many other notable characteristics of the Cathedral had been spared. The two famous towers still stand proudly amongst the skyline.
In fact, because the building had been under construction at the time of the fire, many priceless artworks and architectural pieces had not been on site at the time. This includes the 16 religious statues that once surrounded the collapsed spiral. They are currently being stored in a workshop around Bordeaux.
Other relics were saved from the flames as well. The Crown of Thorns, believed to be worn by Jesus during his crucifixion, was safely retrieved by a clever group of people who created a human chain. The tunic of St. Louis was also rescued using the human chain method. Notre-Dame’s “The Great Organ,” named for its approximate 8,000 pipes, was also unaffected by the scorching flames.
The treasured rose windows of the Cathedral remained intact, but that cannot be said for all of the stained glass windows that adorned Notre-Dame. In a “CBS This Morning” interview with theology professor Candida Moss of Britain's University of Birmingham, some artifacts stored in the spire are feared to be lost. She said the following, "What they didn't save were the relics that were in the spire of the cathedral itself. They had small portions of the relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve in the spire that are presumed lost."
The entire city mourns the devastation of the beautiful cathedral, especially during the Holy week of Easter. Cecile Deleville, a woman who has worshiped in the Cathedral for nearly 44 years said the following about the burning of Notre-Dame: “She was so beautiful, and now the sky is sad.” On Wednesday, Disney, who the beloved animated film “Hunchback of Notre Dame” has donated $5 million towards the efforts of its reconstruction. CEO Bob Iger said the following in a statement, “Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history.” The University of Notre Dame also plans to donate $100,000 for the cause.
According to investigators, the cause of this fire is most likely an electrical short circuit from the renovations taking place at the time. Remy Heitz, Paris prosecutor claimed that this process will be “long and complex." A team of around 50 investigators is currently in the process of interviewing the renovation workers to get to the bottom of whatever caused this tragedy to almost 900 years of history.
On Tuesday, the French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to have the building restored in five years. He stated, “We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years.”