Paris: Notre-Dame Cathedral Burns

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OLIVER JJ LANE

A major fire has engulfed the famed Medieval Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris, destroying the ancient timber roof, bringing down the central spire, and threatening the bell towers.

UPDATE 2200 – Worshippers sing as Cathedral burns

The cathedral was in the process of a period of restoration, and in the past couple of days has had sixteen bronze statues removed from the roof area in recent days to facilitate work. The fire appears to have started in the roof where work is taking place.

Some glimmers of hope this evening – Le Figaro reports the comments of Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior Laurent Nunez, who says the structure of the Cathedral has been saved, despite having lost the roof. And that is to say nothing of the interior.

Nunez said: “The fire has gone down in terms of intensity, so we think that the structure of Notre-Dame is saved, especially the north belfry.”

The structure of Our Lady of Paris “is saved and preserved in its entirety,” the Paris fire chief has said, noting that two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed.

Hundreds, if not thousands of the faithful gathered around the Cathedral to pray and sing songs of worship. Our full report on that:

Parisians Sing Hymns as Notre Dame Cathedral Is Engulfed in Flames https://t.co/LQexVWTMw0

– Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019

And claims that the major artefacts and works of art were saved from the Cathedral from French media:

UPDATE 2140 – The arbiters of truth

Report: Crown of Thorns, Artwork Saved From Notre Dame Blaze https://t.co/VtR5mhicvr

– Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019

A peculiar twist on the other side of the Atlantic, as Youtube flagged a video of the Notre-Dame fire as conspiracy theory content. Another great success for the impartial internet police:

UPDATE 2130 – Macron visits the scene

Google: AI Made ‘Wrong Call,’ Flagged Video of Notre-Dame Fire as 9/11 Conspiracy https://t.co/KmmnZPzOAM

– Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019

French president Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene of the fire earlier this evening alongside prime minister Edouard Philippe and culture minister Franck Riester, where they are had discussions with emergency services leaders.

Earlier, Presiden Macron tweeted: “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

Other religious and political leaders, including U.S. Vice President Donald Trump, also took to social media to express their condolences and sense of loss over the destruction of such a priceless cultural heirloom and symbol of the Christian faith.

British prime minister Theresa May has also responded to the unfolding tragedy, with the characteristic warmth and strength of feeling for which she is so well known:

UPDATE 2100 – PICTURES: Night falls on Paris

My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.

– Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 15, 2019

The Paris skyline is backlit by fire this evening, after a fire that broke out on the roof of the city’s famous cathedral in the late afternoon spread out of control. After collapsing the nave roof and central spire, flames appeared to spread to one of the rectangular bell towers that face onto the great square before the Medieval building.

Despite an enormous effort to save the building, the Associated Press reports that the Paris fire brigade has said they may be unable to save the building at all.

https://apnews.com/73404d09773740f699d4b92933abec50

UPDATE 2045 – PICTURES: Parisians look on UPDATE 2035 – “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame”

Some pictures as evening closes in on a traumatic day for Paris:

A Notre-Dame spokesman has said they expect for the roof to be a total loss. Flames were seen rising inside the belltowers after the collapse of the spire

Read more in Breitbart London’s article on the cathedral spokesman’s comments:

UPDATE 2025 – What is being lost?

Notre Dame Spokesman: ‘Nothing Will Remain’ from the Cathedral’s Frame https://t.co/bra2WnEXcj

– Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019

As U.S. VP Mike Pence notes, Notre Dame is an “iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world” – it is also a core element of the self-identity of Paris. To counter the images of the Cathedral being destroyed, some images of it in the recent past:

“What is civilisation? I don’t know. I can’t define it in abstract terms, yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it.” Turning to Notre Dame, Clarke added: “And I’m looking at it now.”

Posted by Architectural Revival on Monday, 15 April 2019

And now some historic images. This, from the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation during the Second World War in 1944:

UPDATE 2000 – Parisian Island home of Notre-Dame evacuated as fire burns

Paris in the Spring-Time:

UPDATE 1945 – A history of roof fires

Le Parisien reports the Ile de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine within the city of Paris, is to be evacuated with emergency shelters being opened in Paris to take in some 1,000 people who inhabit the island.

The apparent circumstance of the blaze which is slowly destroying the in parts 13th-century roof of the Paris Notre-Dame Cathedral bears superficial similarities to the partial destruction of the Basilica of St. Donatian and St. Rogatian in Nantes, France. Workmen were engaging in weatherproofing work on the roof when the equipment they were using caused the timbers of the roof to burn.

As mentioned in update 1855, restoration work can be an extremely vulnerable time for historic buildings, as ancient timbers come into close proximity to power tools, work lights, chemicals, and other potential sources of ignition.

THIS PHOTOGRAPH FROM 2015:

A report by France3 from earlier this year revealed that while significant work was ongoing at the burnt church, with 30 stonemasons on site, there were still two years of works to go before the church could reopen.

Given the size and historic importance of Notre-Dame, it could be a decade or more before rebuilding work is completed, assuming increasingly secular France decides to embark upon that project. Notre-Dame took almost two centuries to build, in several stages.

UPDATE 1930 – “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week”

A 54-year-old Parisian told French newspaper Le Parisien: “It’s a disaster but we will fix it,… We do not have a choice. We are in Easter week. At the end, there will be a resurrection.”

Conservative MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Debout La France party, reacted with shock to the fire writing, ” see the flames and the thick smoke above Paris, I have tears in my eyes.”

UPDATE 1915 – Roof over the nave has totally burnt away

The outspoken critic of mass migration, who ran as the Prime Minister candidate for populist Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election second round in 2017, added, “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week. Nearly 1000 years of our civilization is being consumed before our eyes.”

This dramatic image shows the eastern end of the Cathedral, which has now totally lost its roof:

The image is a stark contrast with a similar view of the same end of the church less than an hour ago:

UPDATE 1905 – The spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral has collapsed

The fire may now threaten the integrity of the cathedral’s famous rose window:

Eyewitnesses to the huge fire engulfing Nore-Dame recorded the moment the central spire collapsed. The fire has now spread to the bell towers:

The moment #NotreDame’s spire fell pic.twitter.com/XUcr6Iob0b

– Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019

UPDATE 1855 – Fire may have started during restoration work

The splintered remains of the spire can be seen in this Getty image:

Until Monday’s fire, Notre-Dame Cathedral was undergoing major restoration work. France’s AFP reported three days ago:

Sixteen bronze statues briefly took to the skies over Paris after they were removed from the Notre-Dame cathedral to undergo restoration work.

Tourists at the world-famous landmark were left stunned on Thursday as the statues – representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament – were lifted off the spire of the cathedral by crane.

“What’s unique is that it’s the first time we’ve seen them up close since they were set up by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1860s,” Marie-Helene Didier, who is in charge of the renovation work, told AFP.

Its spire, like the rest of the gothic edifice, is undergoing a 11-million-euro ($12.4-million) overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted by time, pollution and the weather.

“Extraordinary,” said Sofiane, an onlooker from London, as the statues flew through piercing blue skies suspended from a giant 100-metre (300-foot) crane. “I’ll never see anything like it again.”

The statues will be put on display inside the cathedral and will travel two-by-two to a specialised restorer in the Dordogne area of southwest France.

Once all have been renovated, they will be put back to their position staring out over the City of Light in 2022.

The spire mentioned in the report now appears to be a complete loss, and firefighters at the scene say part of the roof has now collapsed.

Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame de Paris, on the bank of the Seine river, dates back to the 12th century and is one of the major landmarks of Paris is recognised by its flying buttresses and its large, round north rose window. The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.

Images taken by press photographers from the roof of the church just last week show the significant extent of the restoration work taking place on the nearly 700-year old structure. Scaffolding can be seen spanning the roof in preparation for the removal of 16 copper statues of the Apostles ahead of their restoration. The statues were ‘flown’ out through the use of straps and a crane on Friday.

Firefighters believe the blaze is “potentially linked” to the renovation work of the building, reports Le Figaro.

UPDATE 1845 – President Trump calls on French authorities to “act quickly” to save historic treasure

Restoration work can be a particularly vulnerable time for historic buildings when power tools and other potential sources of combustion come into close contact with dry timbers and other building materials. The United Kingdom suffered the near total loss of a significant historic building, but on a smaller scale, in 2017 when the building thought to be the oldest hotel in the country – and one of the oldest in the world – burnt down during building work taking place on another historic building next door, which spread.

The world watches on as one of the most important buildings in Western Christianity burns, including U.S. President Donald Trump who has suggested a major intervention to quell the flames. He took to Twitter to write: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019

A police force commander told a Le Figaro reporter on the scene that the fire “will burn a long time.”

UPDATE 1840 – Videos from the scene

Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has spoken out: “A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire brigade is trying to control the flames. We are mobilised on site in close connection with the Diocese of Paris. I invite each and everyone to respect the perimeter of security.”

Footage of the fire, which is now consuming the historic central spire of the Cathedral, is spreading on social media:

Horrible #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/BndHQRO1b5

– Solveig Godeluck (@Solwii) April 15, 2019

The fire at Notre Dame looks horrific pic.twitter.com/buYTwh2vDn

– Alan White (@aljwhite) April 15, 2019

This story is developing, more follows

Horrifying footage of Notre Dame cathedral on fire from @Reuters pic.twitter.com/2TOHXize1Q

– Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) April 15, 2019