Notre Dame Fire: Towers saved, entire wooden interior lost

Parisians raised their voices in song Monday night outside Notre Dame Cathedral as firefighters battled a massive blaze threatening one of France’s most revered historic sites.

The fire burned for several hours Monday, causing the collapse of the cathedral’s iconic spire and the destruction of its roof structure, which dated back to the 13th century.

Consumed by flames, the spire leaned to one side and fell onto the burning roof as horrified onlookers watched.

By late Monday night, the fire had weakened and the cathedral’s two towers were safe, said Laurent Nunez, secretary to the interior minister.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised firefighters for saving the cathedral’s iconic facade and towers. “Thanks to their bravery, the worst has been avoided.”

Yet he lamented the damage already done to “the cathedral of all French people,” and pledged to launch an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the cathedral.

“Notre Dame is our history, it’s our literature, it’s our imagery. It’s the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations,” he said.

“This history is ours. And it burns. It burns and I know the sadness so many of our fellow French feel.”

Entire wooden interior lost
A “forest” of wooden latticework inside Notre Dame Cathedral fueled the fire that consumed the iconic church.

The medieval roof structure “has been lost,” according to Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the cathedral.

The cathedral’s wooden frame, which primarily consisted of oak, contains beams that date as far back as the first frame built for the cathedral. That frame featured trees cut down between 1160 and 1170, forming one of the oldest parts of the structure.

Most of the current frame dates from the year 1220, according to the church’s website. The modern frame is the second frame, and reflects adjustments made early in the cathedral’s construction process.

The prevailing Gothic style called for high vaulted ceilings. To accommodate this, the cathedral’s plans required tall, sturdy oaks from a nearby forest.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.