Notre Dame Cathedral Caught Fire, Iconic Structure Suffered Extensive Damage

Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire was caused by a computer glitch, according to the cathedral’s rector. (Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed by a massive fire on Monday, ripping through the iconic building. Parts of the structure were damaged extensively with its spire and roof disintegrated and caving in.

The Notre Dame cathedral is currently undergoing renovations but firefighters have not determined the cause of the fire yet. No deaths have been reported but people have gathered outside the church and watched in horror as the fire continues to burn major parts of the building. The crowd got emotional at the sight of the blaze and they prayed, sang hymns for hours as it was all that they could do to help save the structure.

CNN  reported that Archbishop Michel Christian Alain Aupetit said that the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral goes beyond Paris. "I received a supportive message from the chief rabbi of Paris. Everyone is writing in to share their feelings. This goes beyond Paris. People are reacting worldwide," the archbishop said. "The young people behind me show the power of faith, the power of a message of peace."

Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu also expressed great sadness over the Notre Dame fire in Paris. On Twitter, he wrote in French: "The destruction of this architectural masterpiece of world heritage is a disaster for all humanity."

Former US Vice President Joe Biden also wrote on social media that the Notre Dame Cathedral will rise again. "For centuries, Notre Dame Cathedral has withstood wars, revolutions, and the test of time. It is a symbol of faith & a testament to history," he tweeted. "And even as our hearts break to see it burn today during the holiest week of the year for Catholics, I have faith that it will rise again."

Notre Dame Cathedral Saved

As per CNBC, a French fire official stated that the Notre Dame Cathedral has been saved from total destruction. It was estimated that it will take around seven hours to put the fire out since its initial outbreak but with 400 firefighters, the two towers of the cathedral have been declared safe after five hours.

"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame," Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot initially told the press. But by Monday evening, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said that the firemen were able to save the church's landmark rectangular towers.

"We now believe that the two towers of Notre Dame have been saved," Gallet said. "We now consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved." There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, he said.

Ancient Structure Lost

When the fire broke out in the early evening on Monday, firefighters were not certain if they could save the ancient historical landmark of Paris but with hundreds of firemen responding to the fire, the almost millennium old building was gradually brought under control after a five-hour battle. But while the cathedral has been saved, it lost its major component.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was constructed in 1163 but it was only completed in 1345. The famous medieval design of its roof was called "the forest" but sadly, this was totally destroyed by the fire.

Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the cathedral explained why the roof is called such a name. "The framework from the 13th century is called a "forest" because it required a forest of trees to build it."

The wooden frame used in building the cathedral's roof primarily consists of oak. Most of the beams were originals and they date as far back as the time the structure was built. This means that the roof holds materials from trees cut down between 1160 and 1170 so these are the oldest parts of the building.

Fire Broke Out During Mass

Finally, the fire that gutted down the Notre Dame Cathedral started when mass was being celebrated. One of the attendees, 70-year-old French-American François-Xavier Lochet, said that during the mass, they heard the alarm went off and it was so loud that they could not hear the messages.   

However, most of the people hearing the mass just stood there before they were ushered out of the church. He said that a police officer approached the priest and told him the alarm is not a joke and they need to get out immediately. Once out of the building, it was only then that they saw smoke billowing out from the Notre Dame Cathedral.  

Rebuilding the Notre Dame Cathedral

President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the site of the cathedral and in a statement, he said, "The worst has been avoided, but the battle isn't fully won yet." The visibly emotional French president expressed his sympathies to the Parisians, French people and the Catholics around the world, especially because the unfortunate incident occurred just days away from Easter Sunday.

Macron further vowed that France will rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral and restore it to its majestic stature. He declared that starting Tuesday he will launch a fundraising campaign to collect the money needed for the renovations.

"I'm telling you all tonight - we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years, the French president stated. "Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders."

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