Notre Dame Cathedral Fire Hits Home in Mount Carmel

Tabitha Dunn
April 17, 2019

The blaze at the iconic cathedral was front page news across the world and sparked an instant outpouring of grief in France as people watched the national tragedy unfold on TV.

Almost 400 firefighters fought the blaze for more than nine hours, the department said.

Even though no lives were at risk - pilgrims were led to safety earlier in the evening - these soldats de feu, or "soldiers of fire" as they are also referred to, were relentless in their efforts as they battled for nine hours to keep Notre Dame standing. The company said that it was "touched by the drama that brought together cultures and beliefs" in a statement released on its website. There were hopes the windows had escaped being destroyed by the fire after firefighters stopped its spread.

Addressing those gathered, pope said, "I was very sad and I feel very close to all of you".

The cathedral's roof can not be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century", he said, adding the roof restoration work would have to use new technologies.

Fifty investigators are now working on a "long" and "complex" probe into the cause, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters. Officials have reportedly ruled out the possibility that the blaze was deliberately set.

A public appeal for funds drew immediate support from French billionaires and other private donors, as well as from countries including Germany, Italy and Russian Federation, which offered expertise. French luxury group Kering, whose brands include Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, kicked off the campaign late Monday with a promise of 100 million euros.

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Many critics have argued that the cathedral itself is the real hero of the work, which the writer and campaigner began in 1829 partly to draw attention to the importance of the French capital's gothic architecture, which at the time was being widely neglected, defaced or pulled down to make way for new buildings.

The cost of a likely multi-year restoration project could itself take a year to become clear, industry experts said.

"Just watching that steeple fall into the church, just brought back bad memories", said Ed Cuff.

Many more came Tuesday to the banks of the river Seine to gaze at where the roof and steeple once stood. Two police officers and a firefighter were slightly injured.

The 850-year-old Gothic cathedral was home to dozens of objects of cultural and historical significance, including the holy crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion and the tunic of Saint Louis.

Rescuers formed a human chain at the site of the disaster to evacuate as many artifacts as possible, which were then stocked temporarily at the Paris town hall.

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