What We Know and Don’t Know About the Notre-Dame Fire


The fire that broke out at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, destroying its spire and severely damaging its roof, was extinguished Tuesday morning.

• Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, said that a first fire alarm was triggered at 6:20 p.m. Monday, but that no fire was found after checks were carried out. The cathedral’s rector, Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, told the radio station France Inter that the cathedral had fire monitors who checked the wooden framework under the roof three times a day.

• A second alarm was triggered at 6:43 p.m., and a fire was found under the roof in a network of wooden beams, many dating from the Middle Ages, that is nicknamed “the forest.” Mr. Heitz said that investigators were working off the hypothesis that the fire was an accident.

• No one was killed, officials said, but a firefighter and two police officers were injured.

• Mr. Heitz said most people had been evacuated before the fire was found because a Mass had started in the cathedral. Not long after the doors were shut, witnesses said, smoke could be seen rising from the spire. Video showed that scaffolding around the base of the spire, part of extensive renovations that were underway, was one of the first places to visibly catch fire.

• Around 500 firefighters were deployed to Île de la Cité, the island in the heart of the city where Notre-Dame is situated.

• By 11 p.m. Monday, the Paris fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet said that the structure, including its two front towers, had been “saved and preserved as a whole,” but that two-thirds of the roof had been destroyed.

• Laurent Nuñez, France’s junior interior minister, said that “overall the structure is holding” but that “vulnerabilities” had been identified in the cathedral’s arched vault and in a gable of the northern transept.

• Franck Riester, the culture minister, said that there were “three important holes” in the stone vault of the cathedral, one caused by the collapse of the spire.

• Mr. Nuñez said that five apartment buildings on Rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame, which runs along the cathedral’s north side, had been evacuated for 48 hours as a precaution.

• The 295-foot spire, a wood-frame structure covered in lead that was built when the cathedral was renovated in the 19th century, appeared to be destroyed: After its partial collapse, the fire consumed much of the roof where the spire had stood.

• Some of the cathedral’s art may have been saved because of recent renovations. Last week, for instance, 16 copper statues representing the Twelve Apostles and four evangelists were removed with a crane so that the spire could be renovated.

• Gabriel Plus, a spokesman for the Paris firefighters, said that firefighters in nearby stations carried out two training exercises last year to practice preserving artworks in the cathedral, and that 100 of the 500 deployed firefighters had removed the artworks.

• Firefighters were able to save some of the cathedral’s artworks, including linen fabric associated with St. Louis, the crown of thorns and the cathedral’s treasury, according to Monsignor Chauvet. Lt. Col. José Vaz de Matos, an official who inspects France’s national monuments, said that there were still several large pieces of art inside, “some of which have been affected by the fire but that can be restored,” but that teams could not be sent in at this juncture.

• Mr. Riester said that the cathedral’s famous stained-glass “rose” windows did not appear to have been damaged but would be examined more closely.

[Read more about the crown of thorns and other relics and artifacts at Notre-Dame.]

• At least 400 million euros, or about $455 million, has already been promised to help rebuild Notre-Dame: The billionaire Pinault family of France pledged €100 million, as did the French energy company Total; the family of Bernard Arnault, owners of the luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, plans to contribute €200 million.



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