Notre Dame fire: What we know
- A major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday.
- The cathedral, which was undergoing renovations, suffered “colossal damages.”
- The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but officials do not currently suspect terrorism or arson.
- The fire was finally extinguished on Tuesday morning.
- There were no deaths and only one firefighter reported injured.
- Construction on Notre Dame began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.
The iconic spire at the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris collapsed after a major fire broke out Monday evening. Video showed part of the roof of the cathedral collapsing onto itself.
The flames were finally declared out on Tuesday morning, according to a spokesman for the Paris fire service. Gabriel Plus said Tuesday morning that “the entire fire is out,” and that the emergency services were currently “surveying the movement of the structures and extinguishing smoldering residues.”
Plus said that with the fire out, the next “phase is for the experts” to plan how to fortify what is left of the building.
Firefighters managed to save the cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers from the blaze, but a Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered “colossal damages.”
France’s president vowed to rebuild the landmark.
Parisian authorities said they were ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives as possible causes — at least for the moment — and treating the blaze as an accident, according to The Associated Press.
Pete Buttigieg reacts, in French
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana, offered his condolences to the French people — in French — on Monday as he campaigned for the White House. Buttigieg officially entered the 2020 race for the presidency on Sunday.
The 37-year-old progressive small-town mayor from deep-red Indiana has surged to third place in recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Buttigieg is also one of the first openly gay candidates to vie for a major party’s presidential nomination.
He is known to speak several languages, and he was asked at an event on Monday to react to the Notre Dame fire by a correspondent for French network BFMTV.
“To the people of France I would like to say that the Notre Dame Cathedral was like a gift to humankind. We share the pain, but we also thank you for this gift to civilization,” he replied.
Human chain to save artifacts
Paris’s Deputy Mayor for Tourism and Sports, Jean-Francois Martins told “CBS This Morning” that he and others on the scene jumped into action to try and salvage the trove of art and artifacts housed in Notre Dame Cathedral as the fire spread on Monday.
“We made a human chain, with our friends from the church…to get, as quick as possible, to get all the relics,” he said, noting that the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ was among the items rescued.
“Thanks to the great bravery of all our firefighters, and as well all the public servants there, we had a very quick intervention. Very quickly a team was fully dedicated to save all these holy pieces, and specifically the relics and the crown,” Martins said. “Everything is safe and undamaged, and in our really bad day, we had one good news.”
French Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters in Paris on Tuesday that all the art and artifacts rescued from the cathedral would be transferred to another Parisian landmark, the Louvre Museum, for safe keeping.
Flying buttresses prevail
CBS News correspondent Seth Doane said new video gave people around the world their first look inside the charred cathedral on Tuesday.
He said two-thirds of the building’s roof was destroyed, but the medieval stone masons who built the iconic structure may have saved the main walls of the building by doing such a good job on the renowned flying buttresses, the half-arch supports that fortify the upper level of the cathedral.
The flying buttresses, a Gothic architectural feature that revolutionized construction almost 1,000 years ago by allowing more delicate, tall structures to be made of masonry, look fragile, but they survived the fire.
Still no evidence of arson
The public prosecutor for Paris, Remy Heitz, said Tuesday that investigators were still “favoring the theory of an accident,” to explain the devastating blaze that tore through Notre Dame Cathedral.
Heitz told reporters that some 50 people were taking part in what would be a “long” and “complex” investigation into the fire that is believed to have begun in the attic or roof of the ancient building early on Monday evening.
Heitz said teams that had already been inside the charred building had found nothing to suggest the blaze had been started deliberately. Officials began pointing strongly to an accidental fire even before the flames had been brought under control early on Tuesday morning.
Great Organ, Crown of Christ saved
Paris’ deputy mayor said on Tuesday that the famed “Great Organ” from Notre Dame Cathedral, among the most famous and largest in the world, remained intact after the devastating blaze in Paris’ main cathedral.
Emmanuel Gregoire told French television network BFMTV that an emergency plan to save Notre Dame’s myriad treasures was put into action quickly on Monday and managed to save much of the contents of the iconic cathedral.
The Great Organ, one of two in the structure, was constructed built by Francois Thierry in the mid-18th century. It has an estimated 8,000 pipes.
Gregoire said there was “enormous relief” that so many priceless pieces of art and artifacts had been rescued from the burning structure, including the Crown of Christ — the crown of thorns Jesus Christ is believed to have worn on the cross.
Pope offers prayers
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Tuesday on Twitter that Pope Francis was “close to France,” and that he was offering prayers “for all those who are trying to cope with this dramatic situation.”
The global Church’s leader reacted to the disaster during Catholic Holy Week with prayers for Catholics in France and for all Parisians, “under the shock of the terrible fire” that tore through the cathedral, which the Vatican called “a symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Cause under investigation
Authorities have not yet released any information on the cause of the fire and said it would be investigated. The fire may potentially involve renovation work that was being carried out at the site, the fire service said. Extensive scaffolding covered a portion of the roof as part of the $6.8 million project before the fire broke out.
The Paris prosecutors’ office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives, and said it was treating it as an accident, The Associated Press reports.
French President Macron: “We will rebuild”
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday night. Macron called the fire a “terrible tragedy” and confirmed that the cathedral’s stone facade and two main towers avoided collapsing amid the destruction.
“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. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders,” Macron said.
First look inside the burning cathedral
The first photos have been released showing the damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral caused by the fire Monday. One picture shows debris still smoldering around the altar, but the surrounding stonework appears intact.
Another photo shows portions of the intricately carved vaulted ceiling collapsed as flames continue to burn above.
Notre Dame Cathedral’s history
Construction of Notre Dame began in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a worldwide Parisian icon and the location of some of the most important moments in the history of France.
Henry VI of England was crowned inside the cathedral in 1431 and Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France inside the cathedral in 1804.
The cathedral receives nearly 13 million visitors a year and is home to exquisite religious artifacts, paintings, sculptures and other priceless works of art.
It had been undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable. CBS News’ Roxana Saberi reported in March 2018 that years of rain, snow and pollution had eroded the flying buttresses that prop the cathedral up.
James Shepherd, director of preservation and facilities at the Washington National Cathedral, spoke with CBSN on Monday about Notre Dame’s epic history.
“That’s 800 years of history, of people pilgrimaging there and worshiping there, and the accumulation of culture,” Shepherd said by phone. “All of that will have to be taken into consideration as they try to repair this church and save it after this devastating fire.”
Shepherd spoke of Notre Dame’s “stunning and exclusive stained-glass windows,” which appear to have been destroyed in the fire. He called them “absolutely priceless and some of the best examples of European stained-glass windows.”