- Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of Europe’s most celebrated religious buildings, was devastated by a fire Monday night.
- The fire began at around 6.30 p.m. local time, and burned until the next morning.
- While the cathedral’s main structure survived, the roof and spire were destroyed in the blaze.
- The timeline below shows how the fire developed.
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Thousands stood in disbelief on Monday night as the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’ most iconic historical monuments, became engulfed in flames.
The cathedral, built several hundred years ago, was renowned for its impressive Gothic architecture and housed scores of priceless artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns, which some believe was once worn by Jesus himself, and the Great Organ, one of the world’s most famous instruments. Nearly 13 million visitors visit the landmark each year.
The fire was finally extinguished on Tuesday morning, though the extent of the damage is not yet known. Several relics were able to be saved, and France’s wealthiest have already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars towards the restoration of the site.
Here’s a timeline of how the fire unfolded:
The cathedral had been undergoing renovations for decades before the fire broke out.
The cathedral had been undergoing restorations for the last few decades, partly due to increased air pollution in Paris which eroded parts of the buildings facade.
The most recent renovations were proposed in 2017, when the authorities pledged €6 million ($US6.8 million) to repair the massive nearly 300 foot tall spire. That renovation was part of a larger €150 million ($US169 million) restoration project and included the removal of several of the building’s historic statues in the days leading up to the fire.
Though the cause of the blaze remains unknown, officials are treating the incident as an accident and say it could be linked to recent renovations.
The fire began at around 6:30 p.m. local time on Monday.
The fire quickly spread across the roof, sending huge clouds of smoke billowing into the sky. The cathedral’s delicate spire collapsed around an hour after the fire started.
Hundreds of firefighters had been mobilized in order to put out the fire. Thousands of onlookers congregated along the banks of the Seine, standing in disbelief as the fire spread throughout the building.
“It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” a witness told the New York Times.
The building continued to burn for several hours as firefighters rushed to subdue the flames.
The building featured several design errors that allowed the fire to get so out of hand.
Fire began to spread quickly across areas covered by scaffolding introduced in the renovations process. The roof of the cathedral was also supported by a framework of wooden beams which have stood there since the the 13th century.
The building was made of limestone, which easily crumbled, and fixtures had been replaced over the years with plastic pipes and wooden planks.
Additionally, the flames were so high on the building that firefighters had a hard time extinguishing them by boat or truck.
Dozens of politicians and celebrities expressed their condolences as firefighters continued to battle the blaze.
President Donald Trump, Queen Elizabeth II, and Pope Francis paid tribute to the landmark.
French President Emmanuel Macron canceled a planned speech to the nation on Monday night as the fire raged on.
“Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweeted.
President Trump in a tweet offered advice on how to put out the fire: “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!” His suggestion was dismissed by firefighters, who said doing so could collapse the entire building.
In a statement, Queen Elizabeth II said she and her husband, Prince Philip, were “deeply saddened” to see images of the disaster.
Pope Francis added that he would be “praying for the French Catholics and for the people of Paris who are in shock.”
Despite their efforts to extinguish it, firefighters battled the blaze into the early hours of Tuesday.
Firefighters worked tirelessly through the night to extinguish the flames and attempt to save one of the most famous attractions in Europe.
The Paris Fire Brigade worked for more than nine hours before the fire was subdued.
— @PompiersParis (@PompiersParis) April 16, 2019
By 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, a spokesman for the fire service said the flames were completely under control, according to the Guardian.
The fire was completely extinguished by mid-morning Tuesday.
In the aftermath of the fire, authorities are eager to investigate the extent of damage done.
Notre-Dame spokesman Andre Finot had said on Monday that the entire wooden interior of the landmark would likely be destroyed.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” he said.
Photos from inside the cathedral on Tuesday revealed the extent of damage. The entrance of the cathedral was seen to be largely intact, though large chunks of the cathedral’s famed vaulted ceiling had collapsed.
Images from Tuesday morning revealed holes in the roof and rubble below the nave.
The cathedral’s famed glass windows appeared to be intact, and the two iconic towers in front of the building appear to have been preserved.
Many relics were also able to be saved.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters managed to save many important pieces of history from inside the cathedral, including “linen fabric associated with Saint Louis, the Holy Crown of thorns and the cathedral’s treasury,” according to the The New York Times.
Hidalgo also said that a number of artworks will be taken to the Louvre in the coming days, including a series of large paintings known as the Mays de Notre-Dame that showed only slight damage, CNN reported.
A copper rooster which sat above the collapsed spire was removed intact, French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud tweeted on Tuesday. He added that it “contains relics for the protection of Paris.”
The oldest bell, named Emmanuel, was confirmed to have been saved, while the fate of other bells remains uncertain.
Minister of Culture Frank Riester posted photos of people working to safely remove the art from the wreckage.
Les agents du @MinistereCC, épaulés par les équipes de l’archevêché, les @PompiersParis et les forces de sécurité, évacuent les œuvres se trouvant à l’intérieur de la cathédrale. Elles sont progressivement mises en sécurité. #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/iINHyUqJME
— Franck Riester (@franckriester) April 15, 2019
The fate of numerous statues, gargoyles, sculptures and paintings remains unknown.
Pledges have poured in to help rebuild the historic building.
Several of France’s wealthiest residents have already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to the restoration project. The billionaires behind three French luxury groups pledged a combined $US565 million.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, also pledged an unknown amount.
Collectively, around $US730 million has been committed to rebuild the holy site.
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