Notre Dame roof burns for hours

Paris is in schock after a fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral


Quentin Mahéas

A blaze erupted from the roof of Notre Dame on the evening of Monday, April 15th.

Tenley Wright, Staff Writer

Notre Dame de Paris, meaning Our Lady of Paris, is a medieval Catholic cathedral and one of the finest examples of french gothic architecture. On the evening of April 15th, the ceiling of the cathedral burned as thousands of Parisians watched from the banks of the Seine river.

The cathedral was built on a small island called the Île de la Cité, in the middle of the Seine. Construction began in 1163, during the reign of King Louis VII, and was completed in 1345.

Since then, Notre Dame has been the setting for multiple events in European history.

Henry VI of England was made king of France inside Notre-Dame in 1431, and Napoleon Bonaparte, who sought to save the storied cathedral during his reign, crowned himself emperor there in 1804.

The cathedral was also home to the crown of thorns and the tunic of Saint Louis, both of which made it safely out of the fire and to Paris City Hall. The crown of thorns is believed to be the same that Jesus Christ wore during the crucifixion. It was first housed at the Ste. Chapelle in Ile de la Cité, but then moved to Notre Dame.

The fire broke out about 6:30 p.m.. Around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. By 11 p.m. Paris time, the fire had been put out, and most of the structure had been preserved. Two thirds of the roof were destroyed, but the main bell towers were saved.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron gave a brief speech at the cathedral after the fire.

“This is the place where we have lived all of our great moments, the epicenter of our lives,” Macron said during his speech. “It is the cathedral of all the French.”

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, officials said. But it appeared to have begun in the interior network of wooden beams, many dating back to the Middle Ages.

No one was killed, officials said, but a firefighter was seriously injured.

Thousands stood on the banks of the Seine River and watched in shock as the fire tore through the cathedral’s wooden roof and brought down the spire. Video filmed by onlookers and shared on social media showed smoke and flames billowing from the top of the cathedral.

Social Studies teacher Michael Bowker has visited the cathedral and will be returning to France this summer.

“As a history teacher I just really appreciate how long ago it was built,” Bowker said. “It’s a massive structure. Just to think that it was built over 800 years ago without modern technology is amazing. But when I first heard about the fire, I just felt really sick about it. At the time I thought it was going to be totally lost. Anytime there’s an old structure like that in danger, it just makes you sick to your stomach.”

French teacher Natasha Ludwig has also visited the cathedral. After the fire, she wanted to talk about the rebuilding process.

“I got notice on my phone of the fire,” Ludwig said. “My jaw dropped and I just spent the next half hour watching it burn. I was in tears the entire time. After they got the fire put out I was immediately like ‘okay, now it’s time to talk about rebuilding.’ We still have the cross and the altar and those important pieces, but it’s just going to take a while to make it accessible again.”

More than 1.1 billion dollars has been donated towards the effort to rebuild the cathedral. The french prime minister has said that France will hold an international competition aimed at giving Notre Dame a spire adapted to the challenges of our times.