France’s cathedral of cathedrals — Notre Dame de Paris — was devastated by fire on Monday.
“More than 400 firefighters were fighting the blaze, which broke out about 6:45 p.m. local time, destroying large parts of the 850-year-old Gothic monument that is the spiritual symbol of the French capital,” the LA Times reports. Two towers on the main facade, have been saved.”
Traffic congestion and onlookers initially hampered firefighting efforts as smoke wafted across the city dropping ash for great distances including across the River Seine. The height of the historic cathedral further challenged the efforts.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said “heroic” firefighters were battling to save what they could. As to the cause, so far, foul play has been ruled out. The fire likely started during activities associated with the structure’s reconstruction project.
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Officials say “Paris police will conduct an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire.” Hopefully, the “involuntary” language will pervade the investigation.
Historic structures, especially in the recent past, have been subject to disastrous destruction by fire. Only through effective fire protection methods will we succeed in preserving our built history for future generations. For a discussion on fire safety issues for historic buildings click here.
Firefighters struggled for over 30 minutes to get water on some parts of the cathedral. Paris officials need more resources available to them for fighting fires of this colossal nature that occurred days before Easter.