Fire at Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris

Chloe Boxer, Editor in Chief

On Monday evening of April 15th, 2019, at around 6:30 p.m. Parisian time, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris engulfed in flames.

According to the New York Times, “the cause of the fire was not immediately known, André Finot, a spokesman for the cathedral, said in a telephone interview, and there was no immediate indication that anyone had been hurt.” Thousands of spectators gathered to view the fire and part of the iconic spire, pictured below, and the roof has collapsed as a result of the mysterious burn.

Cathedral of Notre-Dame before the eruption of the fire.

French President Macron, who was scheduled to speak to the nation regarding the recent riots in the Parisian streets, quickly canceled his speech and instead took to Twitter to relay this message to his citizens – “like all of our fellow citizens, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

The cathedral is currently undergoing extensive renovation, and some speculate the cause of the fire is related to the work being done on the centuries-old building. Construction on the Notre Dame de Paris, or Our Lady of Paris, began in 1163 and concluded in 1345. Notre Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral and remains to be one of the most stunning pieces of Gothic architecture still standing today. Most Parisians and French people alike view the cathedral as a symbol of their nation and believe it represents the very heart of their beloved city Paris.

Approximately 400 firefighters are on the scene combatting the massive blaze and a spokesperson for France’s emergency services asserted on Twitter that “dropping water by plane on this type of structure could cause the whole of the structure to collapse.” This explains why the fire burned for longer than most expected it to, in order to prevent the permanent destruction of the cathedral.

Jean-Claude Gallet, commander general of the Paris Fire Brigade, publicly warned that there was “a risk that the great bell falls. If the bell falls, it’s the tower that collapses.” However, the bell that has survived hundreds of years of revolutions and chaos did not fall, and the two towers remained safe after the fire was put out.

Notre Dame was immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and further popularized by Disney’s 1996 animated movie adaptation of the same name. Many Disney fans took to social media with their art tributes to the fire, including a now-viral sketch of Quasimodo, the main character in the Disney film, by Cristina Correa Freile.

Cristina Correa Freile’s sketch of Quasimodo holding his beloved Notre Dame.

The Walt Disney Company, among other groups and individuals, donated $5 million to the reconstruction efforts of Notre Dame. As the world reels from this tragedy, those who can fund its rebuilding are donating millions, in hopes of restoring the famous cathedral to its formal glory.