Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire

April 15, 2019 • 12:45 pm

This was just reported, and you can see a scanty report at the BBC. It looks quite serious:

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.

Images on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the air above the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Last year, the Catholic Church in France launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the cathedral, which was starting to crumble.

A major operation is under way to tackle the blaze, which broke out on Monday afternoon, and an area surrounding the building in central Paris has been cleared, officials said.


Click on the second tweet below to go to a livestream of the fire, or click here.


I’ve spent many hours in the lovely building, and even went to Christmas Mass one year, just to see the celebrations and smell the incense. It looks like it’s mostly the roof that will be damaged, but you can be sure that French firefighters will do their very best to stop the blaze, for this is one of the world’s great religious sites and of course a major tourist draw to Paris.

h/t: Grania

41 thoughts on “Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire

  1. Quelle horreur. The fire looks pretty bad in the picture. In addition to the building, I hope the art work, furniture and other treasures there will not be damaged.

        1. I just heard a report on the CBS live feed that a spokesperson for the cathedral said “everything is burning.” Sure hope the spokesperson is wrong.

          CBS also showed a relatively close-up shot of the spire burning. You could see the flames licking upward from the interior of the spire.

    1. This was not done because of the fear that it would destroy the stone vault that forms the roof of the inside of the building, and which is fortunately preserved. What burned so intensely is the centuries-old wooden beam “forest” above the vault that supported the roof.

  2. But, an Alabama grandmother’s prayer closet remained standing after deadly tornadoes ravaged her Lee County community.

    The lord works in mysterious ways…

  3. I feel so badly for all the people who won’t have the chance to see it as I saw it. I hope they can at least save the beautiful windows.

      1. It’s probably going to take a year or more just to remove the scaffolding and it’s going to be a dangerous job.

    1. The windows were already reported as gone before local dusk.
      Europe’s stained-glass makers can start taking on apprentices again though. Work for a couple of generations needed.

  4. Trumps comments about everything are so useless that i am in awe of his Ignorance. who needs his two cents on any issue?
    Trump wants to fly a tanker over the city and dump water on a 700 year old building in the middle of a city. Is trump going to next blame MS 13 and state the people France should have sweeped more around the building?

      1. Why isn’t water-bombing used in more urban fires? Because it has a higher probability of killing civilians and firefighters than almost any other technique, including doing nothing.
        There is a reason that it’s used in open country, with nobody in the “bombing zone”.
        In a city with a water pipe network, there’s almost certainly a better way already in place.
        You’d think that the deluge of such advice after September-11th would have meant that every major city had a water-bombing plane on standby, but no, not one. Clearly the professionals of firefighting have no respect for the mass knowledge of the Interwebz.

        A standard fire hose can put around a quarter-ton of water into a fire in a second. And another half ton in the next second. And the next second. And the next second. It doesn’t take long to far exceed what you can carry under-slung on a helicopter. I’m not even going to waste time on discussing airplanes.

    1. Sorry, that is on, not one. A reporter on CNN wondering why they did not have helicopters but this might be too dangerous even if they had and simply useless on this type of fire. A fire on the inside surrounded by stone walls would be very difficult to fight. It becomes like a very large stove.

      1. A fire on the inside surrounded by stone walls would be very difficult to fight. It becomes like a very large stove.

        A large stove with a roof and walls ready to collapse.
        You’d punch through the windows with hoses on maximum projection, then back the hose pressure off and try to bounce the water off any wall you an see through the hole.
        If you had a solid door frame to get through, you’d maybe try to put monitors (hoses on ground-frames) into the door frame then retire the firefighters from that area in case the wall comes down, or more roof comes in.

  5. I was there not even two weeks ago. I did not elect to stand in line long enough to go inside. If someone had told me it would be my only chance, I’d have taken it for sure.

  6. This is clearly terrible. The entire wooden roof seems to have burned and collapsed.

    I suppose one should not speculate about the implications at this stage. But it is just worth remembering that the cathedral was pretty thoroughly desecrated by Napoleon, and the main restoration started in the 1840s.

  7. Aaand..I hit Post prematurely. I meant to go on to say that a lot of the interior is 19th century Catholic kitsch. The main treasures of the fabric are the glorious 13th century windows, and the wonderful Caballe-Coll organ. Hopefully the former can be saved. If not…well, the York Minster fire of 1984 shows that such things can be rescued: And organs can be replaced too.

    This is a tragic disaster for our historical heritage; but it can be repaired.

  8. Depending how old the roof is (does it date back to the 1840 restoration or much earlier?) the timber is probably soaked in oil or pitch or whatever was thought to give protection against rot. Which would make a huge fire load.

    In that video of the spire collapsing (note, a spire is probably not a huge structure to replace, these days), what concerns me more is the flames just visible well to the left, which indicates the fire has spread the full extent of the building.

    The really difficult part to replace is, I think, the stonework. Probably not directly damaged by the flames (other than needing a good clean) but could be pushed over by falling roof beams or destabilised by the loss of roof loading.

    If part of that collapses the job is going to be far more extensive.


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