By Ariel Steinsaltz
On April 15, the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire, destroying the spire that sat atop the centuries-old building and burning through its wooden roof, according to The New York Times.
Although the fire was believed to be accidental, Benjamin Mouton, the architect who designed the fire safety system of the cathedral, said that officials mistook how quickly the oak beams in the roof would burn, and they had built a delay into the fire alarm system. The cathedral had been under renovation and the cause of the fire has not yet been officially determined, The New York Times reported.
It has since been suggested that the cause of the fire was “an electrical short-circuit” in an elevator and that a computer glitch may have contributed by showing the fire in the wrong place. The flames were believed to have started at the base of the spire, according to CBS News.
The cathedral caught fire after 6 p.m. Paris time, and 500 firefighters spent nearly five hours fighting the blaze. By 11 p.m., the cathedral had been mostly preserved, including the two iconic bell towers, although two-thirds of the roof was gone. French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the cathedral would be rebuilt, according to The New York Times.
After the fire cleared, people assessed the damage to the cathedral and the many works of art that it contained. The overall structure of the building was still intact, except for the roof and spire. Since the bell towers survived the blaze, most of the bells were believed to have survived too, including the Emmanuel bell, the cathedral’s main bell and a 15th-century relic, according to Slate.
The copper statues that sat atop the cathedral were saved, having been removed from the building as a part of the renovation project. Many of the paintings and other artwork inside were also rescued from the blaze. The grand organ in the church was intact, but was believed to have suffered water damage. The iconic stained-glass rose windows also survived the fire, according to Slate.
Since the fire, nearly $1 billion dollars has been raised towards the rebuilding efforts of the cathedral. Meanwhile, there have been negative reactions worldwide to the amount of money raised, with some saying that the money could instead be used to solve the world’s social issues, USA Today reported.
Officials have said that $1 billion will likely not be enough for all of the necessary repairs, while architects say that despite Macron’s five-year promise, rebuilding the cathedral could take decades, according to USA Today.