Awful doesn’t even begin to describe this. Almost 1,000 years of history is gone, never to be recovered:
The spire of Paris’s famous Notre Dame cathedral has collapsed after a massive blaze broke out at the cathedral earlier this evening.
Pictures posted on social media showed enormous plumes of smoke billowing into the city’s skyline and flames engulfing large sections of the historic building as firefighters struggled to contain the inferno.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, the fire broke out in the attic of the monument before spreading across the roof.
A spokesperson for the cathedral said the blaze was first reported at 5.50pm (GMT) and the building was evacuated soon after.
Officials in Paris said the fire could be linked to restoration works as the peak of the church is currently undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.
French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the stunning blaze and was going to the cathedral himself.
Macron tweeted shortly after the blaze: ‘Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thoughts go out to all Catholics and all of France. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.’
Macron’s pre-recorded speech was set to be aired Monday evening, to lay out his long-awaited answers to the yellow vest crisis that has rocked the country since last November.
Cathedral spokesman Andre Finot told Le Monde: ‘Everything is burning. The frame – which dates to the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other – there will be nothing left.
And during Holy Week. It’s just terrible.
What’s especially sad is that Europeans haven’t really appreciated their history, particularly their Christian history, in decades. They would laugh at us Americans when we would talk about our old buildings because in comparison to Europe’s they’re so young. Will Europeans finally wake up and start appreciating their Christian history only after it’s all gone?
Update: According to French officials, the cathedral closed at 18:45 (6:45pm) and the fire started only 5-6 minutes later.
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) April 15, 2019
Update II: The stained glass windows that were created in 1250 and 1255 have exploded due to the heat of the fire. Imagine the time and effort that the medieval artists put into designing and building those beautiful windows. And now they’re gone. By the time the fire burns itself out, there will be nothing left of the church that was built over 800 years ago.
Update III: The structure of the Cathedral has been saved along with the two bell towers. This is a small miracle. Emanuel Macron is also calling to rebuild Notre Dame and has asked that the “world’s greatest talents” contribute to this task.
Update IV: Photos are emerging from inside the cathedral:
Firefighters at Notre Dame. Incredible photo by Yoan Valat. pic.twitter.com/2CYqge6NRK
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) April 15, 2019
Look at that. The Cross still stands amidst the burned rubble.