A massive fire has destroyed part of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The tragedy comes during Holy Week, an important event for the Catholic Church that contains both the Good Friday and Easter holidays. Now, officials are examining what needs to be done to restore the most famous Gothic cathedral from the Middle Ages.
Notre Dame is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. It is visited by more than 13 million people a year. The 12th-century cathedral was built over a nearly 200-year span, beginning in 1163, and is more than 850 years old. It has survived the French Revolution, World World I, and the Nazi occupation of France in World War II.
According to officials, there’s no evidence of arson in blaze. The cathedral was undergoing a $6.8 million renovation project when the blaze broke out and that may have contributed to the fire. The fire appears to have started near scaffolding put up to conduct renovations on the cathedral’s iconic spire. Workers from five companies that had been hired to work the renovations will be interviewed by investigators.
Nearly 400 firefighters made an intense effort to save the cathedral. Within the first hour, the fire had brought down the spire and spread across the roof. The firefighters finally extinguished the blaze more than 12 hours after beginning the battle. According to a statement from the fire service, two policemen and one firefighter had been slightly injured during the effort. Roughly two-thirds of the roof was destroyed.
French interior minister Christophe Castaner said state workers would need to wait 48 hours before being able to safely enter Notre Dame and survey the damage. After the fire was out, smoldering rubble could be seen in piles across the cathedral’s floor. Fortunately, all three 13th-century Rose stained-glass windows and other historic treasures from inside the cathedral appear to have survived the fire.