Paris, Notre-Dame burns: huge fire envelops cathedral, spire collapses. Live video

A huge fire broke out in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The roof and spire collapsed.

A vast fire broke out this afternoon, Monday, April 15, 2019, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire envelops much of the building, and cameras recorded on live television the collapse of the grand flèche, the tall forty-five-meter spire that rests on the roof, which was entirely destroyed. Already many images from Parisians and tourists, posted on social networks, documenting what is happening to the cathedral that is also one of the symbols of Paris, as well as one of the most visited monuments in the world. The spire, the result of Viollet-le-Duc’s nineteenth-century reconstructions (the original thirteenth-century one was demolished in 1792), is ruined to the ground, while the roof has collapsed inside.

At the moment, fortunately, no injuries have been reported (the fire broke out around 7 p.m., when the cathedral was closed to the public and no one was in the building), and the area has been completely evacuated: the entire Île de la cité, the island on which Notre-Dame stands, has been isolated, while helicopters fly over the area. Restoration work was underway in the house of worship, and the hypothesis, confirmed by the Paris fire department, is that the fire may be related to the work the cathedral was undergoing.

“A terrible fire is underway in Notre-Dame Cathedral,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted shortly after 8 p.m. “Paris firefighters are attempting to control the flames. We are mobilized to the scene, in close liaison with the diocese of Paris. I urge everyone to respect the security perimeter.” The city received solidarity from around the world: among the first to tweet, at around 7:45 p.m., was the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, who wrote that “it is horrible to see the great fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps tanker planes could be used to put it out. Action must be taken quickly!” However, what Trump advocates (tanker planes) is an impossible intervention on a building like Notre-Dame: the French Civil Defense Directorate General has already let it be known that to intervene in this way, by pouring huge amounts of water on the building from above, would mean compromising the stability of the structure.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also intervened, tweeting in French “a blow to the heart for the French and all of us Europeans.” French President Emmanuel Macron, who was scheduled to present a series of reforms on television at 8 p.m., postponed his commitments: “Notre-Dame,” he tweeted, “is in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and all French people. Like all our compatriots, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight.”

Paris police meanwhile let it be known that the fire will last much longer. Notre-Dame is one of the oldest and most majestic churches in France: built between the 12th and 14th centuries, it is owned by the French state, which grants it for use by the Catholic Church, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. France 24 and other French networks initiated live YouTube broadcasts of the fire.

Photo: the burning cathedral (photo by the French Ministry of the Interior)

Paris, Notre-Dame burns: huge fire envelops cathedral, spire collapses. Live video
Paris, Notre-Dame burns: huge fire envelops cathedral, spire collapses. Live video

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