A major fire has engulfed the famed Medieval Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris, destroying the ancient timber roof, bringing down the central spire, and threatening the bell towers.
The cathedral was in the process of a period of restoration, and in the past couple of days has had sixteen bronze statues removed from the roof area in recent days to facilitate work. The fire appears to have started in the roof where work is taking place.
This livewire has now closed. Get the latest at Breitbart London.
UPDATE 1200 — Treasures saved by hero chaplain
Treasures including the crown of thorns relic and important works of art were saves thanks in part, at least, to the work of the chaplain of the Parisian fire brigade. Get more on this at Breitbart London:
Notre-Dame Treasures, Relics Saved After Firefighter-Priest Led Human Chain Inside Burning Cathedral https://t.co/kfhsidde5x
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 16, 2019
UPDATE 0900 — Fire totally extinguished
Finally, and nearly 15 hours after the fire began, all flames have now been put out. Speaking at just before 0900 BST, Paris’s fire department confirmed “the whole fire is extinguished”, reports Le Parisien.
Now the recovery begins.
A selection of the latest pictures from Paris Tuesday morning as the fire was put out for good:
Une nouvelle photo publiée sur Twitter montre la rosace de Notre-Dame : l'un des symboles de l'édifice semble avoir tenu le choc malgré l'incendie >> https://t.co/aVRO6mTExE #NotreDame #Paris pic.twitter.com/EefjXnhnPS
— Le Point (@LePoint) April 16, 2019
UPDATE 0337 — Some social media users mock and laugh at the tragedy
Breitbart London’s Chris Tomlinson reports on some social media users mocking the tragedy:
Social media has seen a variety of reactions following the tragic fire at Paris’ iconic Notre-Dame cathedral Monday, but some users chose to mock and laugh at those expressing sorrow.
Several accounts on Twitter expressed mockery over the loss of the 850 plus year-old cathedral, which has become an icon of the city of Paris since the Medieval era.
Twitter user @SarahSahim, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, Teen Vogue and the Independent newspaper wrote, “Notre-Dame burning is cosmic karma for all the historical sites and artefacts France destroyed and stole when being colonialist scum.”
Read the rest here.
UPDATE 0319 — Devastated art world wept and watched as Notre-Dame burned
(AP) — Notre Dame, a survivor of wars and revolutions, has stood for centuries as not merely the greatest of the Gothic cathedrals and a towering jewel of Western architecture.
It has stood, in the words of one shell-shocked art expert, as “one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”
And so it was that across the globe Monday, a stunned and helpless art world wept alongside the people of France as a massive fire ravaged the beloved cathedral.
“Civilization is just so fragile,” said Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters branch in New York, her voice shaking as she tried to put into words what the cathedral meant. “This great hulking monument of stone has been there since 1163. It’s come through so many trials.”
“It’s not one relic, not one piece of glass — it’s the totality,” she said, struggling to find words expansive enough to describe the cathedral’s significance. “It’s the very soul of Paris, but it’s not just for French people. For all humanity, it’s one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”
More on the art world reaction, including photos of Notre-Dame’s artistry throughout the ages, read here.
UPDATE 0242 — “The fire is completely under control”
(AFP) — A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is “under control”, the Paris fire brigade said early Tuesday after firefighters spent hours battling the flames.
“The fire is completely under control. It is partially extinguished, there are residual fires to put out,” said spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus.
UPDATE 0120 — Photos from inside the fire-damaged cathedral
Some photos of the cathedral’s interior show it is damaged, but not destroyed.
A Reuters diagram shows the areas of the cathedral damaged by the fire:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 15, 2019
UPDATE 0057 — Vatican statement on the fire at Notre-Dame — ‘a symbol of Christianity’
Breitbart’s Tom Williams reports on the message sent by the Vatican concerning the fire at Notre-Dame:
“With shock and sadness, the Holy See received the news of the terrible fire that devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and the world,” reads the communiqué, which the Vatican made available to Breitbart News.
“We extend our closeness to French Catholics and to the people of Paris and ensure our prayers for the firefighters and those who are doing all they can to deal with this tragic situation,” the Vatican said.
Read the rest here.
UPDATE 0050 — Prayers and support from around the world
(AP) — The world reacted with shock, horror and prayers to the massive fire Monday at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, united in grief and in solidarity with the people of France.
As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.
The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters near the scene that he will seek international help, including the “greatest talents” in the world, to rebuild Notre Dame.
U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at the start of an appearance in Minnesota, spoke of the “terrible, terrible fire” that devastated “one of the great treasures of the world.”
“It’s a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives,” Trump said of the landmark.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, drawing some 13 million people each year. The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from all over described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.
“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said on Twitter.
The Vatican said Pope Francis “has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for intercession.
“God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze,” Dolan said in a statement.
Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam, remembered spending hours at the cathedral in his first visit, in 1991, with record executive Michael Goldstone.
“Thinking about Paris,” Ament tweeted, with photos of the cathedral.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he’s “horrified,” calling the cathedral “a unique example of world heritage.”
In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Hieromonk Stefan called the fire “a tragedy for the entire Christian world and for all who appreciate the cultural significance of this temple,” the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported:
On Twitter, Trump suggested using planes to drop water on the flames. France’s Civil Security agency said that wasn’t feasible.
“All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” the agency tweeted.
UPDATE 0040 — The “soul of the French nation”
(AFP) — “The soul of the French nation is disappearing, the very heart of Paris and France were wounded today,” added Stephane Bern, a journalist who has long campaigned for the defence of the country’s cultural heritage.
For more about the history of the cathedral, including historic photos through the years, read here.
UPDATE 2224 — Macron promises to rebuild
(AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral and says he is seeking international help to restore the Paris landmark.
Macron said after the French capital’s fire chief announced the emergency response had changed into a monitoring and mop-up operation, “The worst has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won.”
Macron said a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched Tuesday, and he called on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.
The French leader credited the “courage” and “great professionalism” of firefighters with sparing Notre Dame’s facade and two landmark towers from being destroyed.
UPDATE 2217 — French prosecutors treating the fire as an accident
(AP) — The Paris prosecutors’ office says investigators are treating the blaze that destroyed part of Notre Dame as an accident for now.
The prosecutors’ office said late Monday they have ruled out arson in Monday’s fire, including possible terror-related motives for starting the blaze.
Prosecutors say Paris police will conduct an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire.”
UPDATE 2205 — Structure saved
Some glimmers of hope this evening — Le Figaro reports the comments of Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior Laurent Nunez, who says the structure of the Cathedral has been saved, despite having lost the roof. And that is to say nothing of the interior.
Nunez said: “The fire has gone down in terms of intensity, so we think that the structure of Notre-Dame is saved, especially the north belfry.”
The structure of Our Lady of Paris “is saved and preserved in its entirety,” fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said, noting that two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed. However, the Cathedral’s rectangular towers have been saved.
Gallet said that firefighters were able to save the structure by stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.
The fire chief noted that one firefighter was injured and that fire crews will continue their work through the night to cool down the structure.
UPDATE 2200 — Worshippers sing as Cathedral burns
Hundreds, if not thousands of the faithful gathered around the Cathedral to pray and sing songs of worship. Our full report on that:
Parisians Sing Hymns as Notre Dame Cathedral Is Engulfed in Flames https://t.co/LQexVWTMw0
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019
The Associated Press reports that Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit has encouraged priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers.
And claims that the major artefacts and works of art were saved from the Cathedral from French media:
Report: Crown of Thorns, Artwork Saved From Notre Dame Blaze https://t.co/VtR5mhicvr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019
UPDATE 2140 — The arbiters of truth
A peculiar twist on the other side of the Atlantic, as Youtube flagged a video of the Notre-Dame fire as conspiracy theory content. Another great success for the impartial internet police:
Google: AI Made ‘Wrong Call,’ Flagged Video of Notre-Dame Fire as 9/11 Conspiracy https://t.co/KmmnZPzOAM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019
UPDATE 2130 — Macron visits the scene
French president Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene of the fire earlier this evening alongside prime minister Edouard Philippe and culture minister Franck Riester, where they are had discussions with emergency services leaders.
Earlier, Presiden Macron tweeted: “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
Other religious and political leaders, including U.S. Vice President Donald Trump, also took to social media to express their condolences and sense of loss over the destruction of such a priceless cultural heirloom and symbol of the Christian faith.
British prime minister Theresa May has also responded to the unfolding tragedy, with the characteristic warmth and strength of feeling for which she is so well known:
My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 15, 2019
UPDATE 2100 — PICTURES: Night falls on Paris
The Paris skyline is backlit by fire this evening, after a fire that broke out on the roof of the city’s famous cathedral in the late afternoon spread out of control. After collapsing the nave roof and central spire, flames appeared to spread to one of the rectangular bell towers that face onto the great square before the Medieval building.
Despite an enormous effort to save the building, the Associated Press reports that the Paris fire brigade has said they may be unable to save the building at all.
Some pictures as evening closes in on a traumatic day for Paris:
UPDATE 2045 — PICTURES: Parisians look on
UPDATE 2035 — “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame”
A Notre-Dame spokesman has said they expect for the roof to be a total loss. Flames were seen rising inside the belltowers after the collapse of the spire
Read more in Breitbart London’s article on the cathedral spokesman’s comments:
Notre Dame Spokesman: ‘Nothing Will Remain’ from the Cathedral’s Frame https://t.co/bra2WnEXcj
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2019
UPDATE 2025 — What is being lost?
As U.S. VP Mike Pence notes, Notre Dame is an “iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world” — it is also a core element of the self-identity of Paris. To counter the images of the Cathedral being destroyed, some images of it in the recent past:
“What is civilisation? I don’t know. I can’t define it in abstract terms, yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it.” Turning to Notre Dame, Clarke added: “And I’m looking at it now.”
Posted by Architectural Revival on Monday, 15 April 2019
And now some historic images. This, from the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation during the Second World War in 1944:
Paris in the Spring-Time:
UPDATE 2000 — Parisian Island home of Notre-Dame evacuated as fire burns
Le Parisien reports the Ile de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine within the city of Paris, is to be evacuated with emergency shelters being opened in Paris to take in some 1,000 people who inhabit the island.
UPDATE 1945 — A history of roof fires
The apparent circumstance of the blaze which is slowly destroying the in parts 13th-century roof of the Paris Notre-Dame Cathedral bears superficial similarities to the partial destruction of the Basilica of St. Donatian and St. Rogatian in Nantes, France. Workmen were engaging in weatherproofing work on the roof when the equipment they were using caused the timbers of the roof to burn.
As mentioned in update 1855, restoration work can be an extremely vulnerable time for historic buildings, as ancient timbers come into close proximity to power tools, work lights, chemicals, and other potential sources of ignition.
THIS PHOTOGRAPH FROM 2015:
A report by France3 from earlier this year revealed that while significant work was ongoing at the burnt church, with 30 stonemasons on site, there were still two years of works to go before the church could reopen.
Given the size and historic importance of Notre-Dame, it could be a decade or more before rebuilding work is completed, assuming increasingly secular France decides to embark upon that project. Notre-Dame took almost two centuries to build, in several stages.
A 54-year-old Parisian told French newspaper Le Parisien: “It’s a disaster but we will fix it,… We do not have a choice. We are in Easter week. At the end, there will be a resurrection.”
UPDATE 1930 — “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week”
Conservative MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Debout La France party, reacted with shock to the fire writing, ” see the flames and the thick smoke above Paris, I have tears in my eyes.”
The outspoken critic of mass migration, who ran as the Prime Minister candidate for populist Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election second round in 2017, added, “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week. Nearly 1000 years of our civilization is being consumed before our eyes.”
UPDATE 1915 — Roof over the nave has totally burnt away
This dramatic image shows the eastern end of the Cathedral, which has now totally lost its roof:
The image is a stark contrast with a similar view of the same end of the church less than an hour ago:
The fire may now threaten the integrity of the cathedral’s famous rose window:
UPDATE 1905 — The spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral has collapsed
Eyewitnesses to the huge fire engulfing Nore-Dame recorded the moment the central spire collapsed. The fire has now spread to the bell towers:
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019
The splintered remains of the spire can be seen in this Getty image:
UPDATE 1855 — Fire may have started during restoration work
Until Monday’s fire, Notre-Dame Cathedral was undergoing major restoration work. France’s AFP reported three days ago:
Sixteen bronze statues briefly took to the skies over Paris after they were removed from the Notre-Dame cathedral to undergo restoration work.
Tourists at the world-famous landmark were left stunned on Thursday as the statues — representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament — were lifted off the spire of the cathedral by crane.
“What’s unique is that it’s the first time we’ve seen them up close since they were set up by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1860s,” Marie-Helene Didier, who is in charge of the renovation work, told AFP.
Its spire, like the rest of the gothic edifice, is undergoing a 11-million-euro ($12.4-million) overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted by time, pollution and the weather.
“Extraordinary,” said Sofiane, an onlooker from London, as the statues flew through piercing blue skies suspended from a giant 100-metre (300-foot) crane. “I’ll never see anything like it again.”
The statues will be put on display inside the cathedral and will travel two-by-two to a specialised restorer in the Dordogne area of southwest France.
Once all have been renovated, they will be put back to their position staring out over the City of Light in 2022.
The spire mentioned in the report now appears to be a complete loss, and firefighters at the scene say part of the roof has now collapsed.
Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame de Paris, on the bank of the Seine river, dates back to the 12th century and is one of the major landmarks of Paris is recognised by its flying buttresses and its large, round north rose window. The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.
Images taken by press photographers from the roof of the church just last week show the significant extent of the restoration work taking place on the nearly 700-year old structure. Scaffolding can be seen spanning the roof in preparation for the removal of 16 copper statues of the Apostles ahead of their restoration. The statues were ‘flown’ out through the use of straps and a crane on Friday.
Firefighters believe the blaze is “potentially linked” to the renovation work of the building, reports Le Figaro.
Restoration work can be a particularly vulnerable time for historic buildings when power tools and other potential sources of combustion come into close contact with dry timbers and other building materials. The United Kingdom suffered the near total loss of a significant historic building, but on a smaller scale, in 2017 when the building thought to be the oldest hotel in the country — and one of the oldest in the world — burnt down during building work taking place on another historic building next door, which spread.
UPDATE 1845 — President Trump calls on French authorities to “act quickly” to save historic treasure
The world watches on as one of the most important buildings in Western Christianity burns, including U.S. President Donald Trump who has suggested a major intervention to quell the flames. He took to Twitter to write: “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
A police force commander told a Le Figaro reporter on the scene that the fire “will burn a long time.”
Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has spoken out: “A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire brigade is trying to control the flames. We are mobilised on site in close connection with the Diocese of Paris. I invite each and everyone to respect the perimeter of security.”
UPDATE 1840 — Videos from the scene
Footage of the fire, which is now consuming the historic central spire of the Cathedral, is spreading on social media:
— Solveig Godeluck (@Solwii) April 15, 2019
The fire at Notre Dame looks horrific pic.twitter.com/buYTwh2vDn
— Alan White (@aljwhite) April 15, 2019
— Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) April 15, 2019
This story is developing, more follows.
The Associated Press and AFP contributed to this report.