A fire broke out in the Cathedral of Notre Dame this Monday afternoon and continued to burn for a few hours.
An operation of 400 firefighters moved to tame the flames, and at first, no one was sure if the fire could be stopped at all. The incident is getting extensive coverage worldwide, but so far no moment has been more heartbreaking than the cathedral spire, lifted over 150 years ago, collapsing to the ground in flames.
The cathedral itself was completed in the 14th century, meaning it has been a part of France for over 800 years.
No civilians were harmed as the building was quickly evacuated, but one firefighter is said to have been seriously injured during the operation.
Other parts of the structure had already collapsed and the main effort now was to save the cathedral’s artwork and prevent the fire from spreading further. The deputy interior minister Laurent Nunes told reporters earlier he was “not certain” the building could be saved.
Fortunately, the fire has been contained and the cathedral was saved from total destruction. Reports say the fire is cooling and both towers are no longer at risk.
It’s suspected the fire started from an area under maintenance, but the fire must first be contained before the cause can be investigated further.
France was moved in solidarity towards the tragedy. Crowds were singing “Ave Maria” on the streets as they hoped firefighters could contain the flames. As of right now, some are still singing in mourning for the tragedy:
Ave Maria pic.twitter.com/lb6Y5XV05a— Ignacio Gil (@Inaki_Gil) April 15, 2019
Other authorities took upon Twitter to say a few words of solidarity.
Former president of the United States Barack Obama tweeted: “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.” (Twitter)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Horrified by the pictures coming from Paris with the fire engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral - a unique example of world heritage that has stood tall since the 14th century. My thoughts are with the people and government of France.” (Twitter)
President Donald Trump said: “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!” (Twitter)
The French government quickly responded to Trump’s “suggestion” stating that using flying water tankers on such a weakened structure could collapse the entire building.
Finally, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, had to postpone a TV address so he could head to the scene of the fire. On Twitter, he said: “Notre-Dame is aflame. Great emotion for the whole nation. Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to the French people. Like all of my fellow citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight.” (Twitter)
Updates on what started the fire and what could be salvaged should be coming soon.