Notre Dame Cathedral Is Burning

 

This is a fast-moving story, and absolutely devastating development during Holy Week. The BBC reports:

A fire has broken out at the famous Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, firefighters say.
The cause is not yet clear, but officials say it could be linked to renovation work.
Images on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the air above the the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Update: 8:23PM in Paris

Shep Smith on Fox News just reported that Paris fire fighters are just now beginning to get water on Notre Dame nearly three hours after the blaze was first reported.

Update 8:26PM in Paris

Notre Dame Spokesman: “Entire wooden interior of cathedral is burning, likely to be destroyed. Everything is burning. Nothing will remain from the frame.”

Update 9:12PM in Paris

The fire has spread to one of the two iconic bell towers, according to reports.

Published in Culture, History
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There are 116 comments.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member

    There’s a picture for our times. Our Lady is burning. Ora pro nobis.

    • #1
    • April 15, 2019, at 10:45 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  2. She Thatcher
    She

    Dreadful. Reports are that part of the cathedral are collapsing. It looks worse on TV now, and as though the fire is moving along the long nave section. Very sad.

    On a comical note, the Fox anchor just said that Joan of Arc was “beautified” at Notre Dame many years ago.

    • #2
    • April 15, 2019, at 10:47 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Western Chauvinist Member

    She (View Comment):
    On a comical note, the Fox anchor just said that Joan of Arc was “beautified” at Notre Dame many years ago.

    • #3
    • April 15, 2019, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. James Gawron Thatcher

    Eds,

    The fire is out of control. The damage will be massive.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • April 15, 2019, at 10:55 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    That’s just about the saddest image ever.

    That’s probably the world’s most famous church except for perhaps St. Peter’s Basilica which might be viewed as more of a Roman Catholic symbol.

    What a nightmare!

    • #5
    • April 15, 2019, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher

    Eds,

    Has anyone tried to contact Claire?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. WI Con Member

    I’m really hoping this isn’t something nefarious-that could be real trouble.

     It does happen though – we just had the historic 140 year old Trinity Lutheran Church in Milwaukee burn during renovations this past year. I was heartened to see it hasn’t been torn down – masonry is still intact and apparently sound. I believe they are going to rebuild – damage estimated at 17 million unfortunately. Roofing tools (torches were suspected – guessing from copper flashing/roofing?).

    • #7
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Richard Easton Member

    It happened during Holy Week. It’s very sad; let’s hope that the investigation is thorough and is not swayed by PC.

    • #8
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Western Chauvinist Member

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    It happened during Holy Week. We’ll see but I think I know the cause of the fire.

    Yeah, what were they using for renovation? Rocket fuel?

    • #9
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Cow Girl Thatcher

    What an awful sight! It’s also a dreadful week for such an historic cathedral to be ruined. I pray that the fire can be extinguished before the destruction is too much to repair. I’m so sad. 

     

    • #10
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Samuel Block Member

    Terrible. I don’t even want to watch the videos.

    • #11
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. TeamAmerica Member

    Sadly, the fire seems like a physical metaphor for the decline of Christianity in Europe. What is that poem about the receding tide of religious belief?

    • #12
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  13. James Gawron Thatcher

    Eds,

    So far everyone has assumed the fire is related to the large reconstruction taking place on the roof. However, Ezra Levant on his twitter feed mentioned that in 2016 there was a terror scare.

    Gas tanks and Arabic documents found in unmarked car by Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral spark terror fears

    Henry Samuel, paris
    8 SEPTEMBER 2016 • 8:27AM
    Follow
    Gas tanks and documents in Arabic were found in an unmarked car next to Notre Dame cathedral, sparking fresh terror fears and at least four arrests, according to French reports.

    A couple known to intelligence services as being “favourable to the ideas of Isil” were arrested on Tuesday night on their way to Spain, after an anti-terror investigation was launched following the discovery of the suspicious vehicle containing up to seven cylinders on Sunday yards from the cathedral – one of Paris’s most visited landmarks.

    A second couple was detained overnight on Wednesday.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #13
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Aaron Miller Member

    Very sad. Other cathedrals and great architecture has burned and been restored over the centuries. I’m fairly confident such an iconic cathedral will be repaired eventually, no matter how extensive the damage.

    • #14
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Seawriter Member

    TeamAmerica (View Comment):

    Sadly, the fire seems like a physical metaphor for the decline of Christianity in Europe. What is that poem about the receding tide of religious belief?

    Dover Beach, by Matthew Arnold.

    • #15
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. James Lileks Contributor

    Horrible. 

    When I was there a few years ago, I was struck by the din of the tourists inside. It was like a high school hall between periods. 

    • #16
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:23 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Stad Thatcher

    Terrible . . .

    • #17
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Max Ledoux Admin

    It took hours for the fire fighters to start fighting this fire. Did they not have a contingency plan for the possibility that Notre Dame caught fire?

    • #18
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  19. Tim H. Member

    I want to hear from @claire, too. @jameslileks, @peterrobinson, @roblong—would y’all please ask her to join you on this week’s podcast?

    I keep thinking back to my visits there. I went inside during a high school Latin class trip to Europe, but I only vaguely remember what it looked like inside. My wife and I visited it five years ago, but we only went to the doors in front.

    I bought an engraving of it on my first trip, and I hate to think that all that remains might be only the pictures.

    • #19
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. She Thatcher
    She

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    It took hours for the fire fighters to start fighting this fire. Did they not have a contingency plan for the possibility that Notre Dame caught fire?

    Don’t know what the story is on that. What they’ve said to this point is that it was rush hour, the streets were clogged and that it took time for them to clear the area. It seemed to take a very long time, though.

    Also, there were/are supposed to be water tanks in the roof in case of exactly this. Between the two roof sections, I think.

    Have to say that I think Trump’s idea of water-tanker planes was quite a good one. Pick it up in the Seine, dump it on the cathedral. Not sure why it took them so long.

    • #20
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. SkipSul Moderator

    The spire has collapsed.

    • #21
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. She Thatcher
    She

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    The spire has collapsed.

    Cannot like. I saw the video. Awful.

    • #22
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. RyanFalcone Member

    I used to restore churches. With old historic structures, sometimes the methods and materials used to do work on them are heavily scrutinized by historic review boards and commissions and those methods and materials aren’t the safest. Modern fire suppression tech and fire retardant materials may not be allowed in projects such as this. It doesn’t take much for a spark to hit a pot of boiling pitch and for all hell to break loose in an instant.

    • #23
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. Richard Easton Member

    Three hours? Sorry, it’s not a good excuse that it was rush hour.

    • #24
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:38 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  25. Percival Thatcher

    Words fail.

    • #25
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  26. She Thatcher
    She

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    I used to restore churches. With old historic structures, sometimes the methods and materials used to do work on them are heavily scrutinized by historic review boards and commissions and those methods and materials aren’t the safest. Modern fire suppression tech and fire retardant materials may not be allowed in projects such as this. It doesn’t take much for a spark to hit a pot of boiling pitch and for all hell to break loose in an instant.

    I would prefer it to be something like that, if the “spark” can be traced to a tool integral to the renovation. Dread the thought that it was some construction worker on a break having a smoke, and flicking his ash into a bucket of pitch. Or worse.

    • #26
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. RyanFalcone Member

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Three hours? Sorry, it’s not a good excuse that it was rush hour.

    Sadly, if I remember correctly, the Seine River is right across the street.

    • #27
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Scott Wilmot Member

    Horrific.

    Churches across France have been burned and desecrated for quite some time now, and according to NewsWeek, officials don’t know why.

    Jihad Watch asks the right question on where to start looking. 

    • #28
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. She Thatcher
    She

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Three hours? Sorry, it’s not a good excuse that it was rush hour.

    I agree. Just reporting.

    • #29
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Douglas Pratt Member

    Any word of casualties? If there were people working in there, it’s hard to imagine that they all managed to evacuate.

    It’s heartbreaking.

    • #30
    • April 15, 2019, at 11:48 AM PDT
    • Like
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