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Fire in Notre Dame Cathedral: Slow reconstruction and new dangers


The world grieved for Paris when a fire shot through Notre Dame Cathedral last month.

Michel Euler / Getty Images

It has been more than nine months since a fire devastated Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and devoured its tower and most of the roof. Although the flame has long been extinguished, the historic church is still not protected from the elements at the beginning of the slow reconstruction.

Notre Dame has been a symbol of Parisian identity for centuries, and the fire of April 15 hit the city Internet. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become important places for updates, emotions and support actions.

The 12th century Gothic cathedral is a masterpiece with flying buttresses, breathtaking stained glass windows and carved gargoyles. The walls contain valuable Catholic relics and artifacts, paintings, statues and other valuable works of art.

The facade of the cathedral has been the subject of numerous paintings, and its emerging form also inspired Victor Hugo's famous novel Notre-Dame de Paris or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is not only one of the most important religious sites in France, but also one of the most visited monuments in the city.

Experts are now planning to fortify the remains of the 850-year-old building.

What caused the fire? Was it an accident or an arson?

The French judicial police believe that an electrical short circuit most likely caused the fire . According to an anonymous official who spoke to the Associated Press, investigators are still not allowed into the cathedral for security reasons.

Authorities continue to investigate the fire as an accident, but take the cathedral's outdated fire protection measures into account, the New York Times reported. Valérie Pécresse, President of the Île-de-France region in which Paris is located, confirmed that the fire was an accident, although the officials have not worked out the exact cause. The Paris police said this may be related to ongoing $ 6.8 million renovation work.

In addition, elements such as firewalls and sprinkler systems were missing in the attic of Notre Dame, where the fire was burning. According to reports, no electrical cables could be installed in the attic of the cathedral to maintain the original design and protect the wooden beams of the lead ceiling.

How long did it take to extinguish the fire?

It took nine hours and more than 400 firefighters to control the fire and finally put it out. No deaths were reported, but a fireman was reportedly seriously injured.

How is Notre Dame in danger now?

The greatest threat to the cathedral is the wind, Paolo Vannucci, the engineer who originally warned of the dangers in Notre Dame in the event of a fire, told La Repubblica Italian newspaper in mid-May. Vannucci said the landmark could withstand wind speeds in excess of 137 mph before the fire. This strength has decreased by 60% since the fire. Vannucci believes that it will take months for the building to be secured.

"According to my calculations, the risk of collapse at the level of the vault is still high," Vannucci told La Repubblica.

What did the fire survive?

Although the firefighters initially stated that they "could not save Notre Dame", they were able to retain the main structure, including the outer walls and the two bell towers. Photos taken inside the cathedral on April 16 showed debris still smoldering around the altar. A tweet appeared later, showing that the rooster from the iconic tower had survived the fire.

Artifacts and works of art were saved by the Paris Fire Brigade and the city's Deputy Mayor for Tourism and Sports, Jean-Francois Martins. and his team. They were able to save the crown of thorns, the Blessed Sacrament and other objects. The rescued works were brought to the Louvre Museum for safekeeping. Copper statues of the 12 apostles and four evangelists were removed for cleaning as part of the restoration project.

"We formed a human chain with our friends from the Church … to get all the relics as soon as possible," Martins told CBS News. "Everything is safe and undamaged, and we had good news on our really bad day."

In addition three beehives – which house around 180,000 bees – that were located under the rose window survived the fires. Notre Dame's beekeeper, Nicolas Geant, said he had received a call from the cathedral spokesman saying the bees would fly in and out of their beehives. Last month Geant posted photos of bees whirring around one of the gargoyles.

What did not survive?

The tower of the building and part of the roof dissolved in the fire.

What was the schedule for the events during the fire?

The fire started shortly after the cathedral was closed at 18:45. Local time on April 15th and grew rapidly in windy conditions. The narrow streets, the heat of the flames and the location of the cathedral along the Seine made it difficult for firefighters to get closer.

Around 19.53 the tower fell into flames. Part of the roof collapsed less than 15 minutes later, Reuters reported. The island on which the cathedral is located, the Paris Ile de la Cité, was cleared shortly before 8.30 p.m.

It looked terrible. "Everything is on fire, nothing will remain of the frame," Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told CBS News shortly after the fire started.

US President Donald Trump tweeted "maybe flying water tankers could be used." to put it, "but the French government's Civil Protection Service replied that firefighters use all means to fight the fire," except for water bombs, which, if used, could cause the entire structure to collapse of the cathedral. "

] How did people react?

Images of fire quickly took over the globe on social media . In Paris, reported France 24, people gathered and sang Ave Maria and Catholic hymns.

"Our Lady of Paris on fire. Emotion of an entire nation. Intended for all Catholics and for all French. Like all of our countrymen, I am sad to see this part of us burning this evening. "French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. France 24 reported that Macron viewed the fire as a national emergency.

In a tweet, Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo said that firefighters were working to control the flames and asked residents and visitors to respect the security area.

Similar to what happened after the terrorist attacks on P aris in 2015, politicians, religious leaders and ordinary citizens from around the world The world has also tweeted statements of support.

Social media also surrendered to one of their favorite pursuits – conspiracy theories – after a US politician tweeted Unconfirmed information when a friend in Europe told him the fire was intentionally set.

Christopher Hale, who ran for the Tennessee Congress and wrote columns of opinion for Time Magazine, quickly found that his friend's information had not been confirmed and deleted his original tweet, according to The Daily Beast. But that didn't stop right-wing extremist conspiracy theorists from using Hale's tweet as evidence that terrorists had lit the fire.

"In retrospect, I would never have tweeted it," said Hale of the publication. "I don't think I had any foresight to what extent the worst parts of the Internet would use straws in their conspiracy theories."

Again, the French authorities did not propose arson as the reason for the fire.

] Last month, firefighters from the Paris Fire Department attended a reception in their honor at Macron's residence, the Elysee Palace. An additional ceremony was scheduled for later in the day, according to the New York Times.

What is being done now?

President Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame. Donations from French philanthropists and charities to finance the extensive reconstruction costs.

The University of Notre Dame in the USA donated $ 100,000 for the bas-relief of the cathedral and rang the bell 50 of the campus times a day after the fire.

IBM agreed to donate 1 million euros, and Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted that his company would donate money. Disney has reportedly pledged $ 5 million in restoration work. Disney produced The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an animated adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1996 novel.

How can I donate to help rebuild Notre Dame?

Here are some places you can start if you're interested. Part of the Cathedral Reconstruction:

  • The Fondation du Patrimoine has raised more than 7 million euros internationally for Notre Dame Cathedral. Donations can be made once or monthly by credit card, check or bank transfer. The non-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation of historical and cultural sites in France.
  • The Friends of Notre Dame are a 501c3 non-profit organization. Donations for the restoration of Notre Dame can be made by credit card, PayPal or check to the address given on the website. The charity has divided its budget into long-term, medium-term and urgent needs for the cathedral. One of the urgent requirements is the restoration of the overturned church tower, the collapsed roof and the sacristy.
  • The National Shrine Basilica, also known as America's Catholic Church, collects online donations and prayer requests after the fire. The National Shrine encouraged the world to unite and rebuild the cathedral, which has served as a place of worship for eight centuries.
  • The French Heritage Society, a non-profit organization, set up a fund to raise funds for the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral. You can donate online using a credit or debit card or PayPal, send checks in the mail, or donate over the phone by contacting Benjamin Wells at the FHS Programs Membership Office at (212) 759-6846 (extension). 201. Donations are tax deductible under U.S. law and deductible under French law.
  • Dozens of GoFundMe campaigns have surfaced around the world to help rebuild Notre Dame. Be aware that these are unofficial fundraisers. It is important to always search for organizations to ensure that they are reputable.

Attractions in Notre Dame Cathedral

Targo's new documentary on the reconstruction of Notre Dame shows the renovation work. It is available in Oculus TV on Oculus Quest. Facebook announced the new documentary on January 23.

If you want to visit or relive a trip there, you can see virtual tours both in the majestic halls and from the bird's eye view of the timeless architecture.

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Originally published April 15.
Updates 16.-18. April, May 22 and January 27 : Additional information about the fire and its aftermath, and upcoming events.

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