Perhaps one of the most unfortunate causes of the blaze was the newness of the employee who communicated the location of the fire to the guard. The NYT reported that it was only his third day on the job, and he had just started a double shift manning the presbytery room, which contained a complicated control panel that alerted him to smoke anywhere in the complex. There’s debate over whether he understood the alert and whether he communicated it correctly. Recent staff cuts at Notre-Dame had left him solo, according to The Telegraph. The cathedral’s spire had fallen an hour into the fight against the blaze, and the fire was so all-consuming that all firefighters on site were ordered to return to the ground where, after realizing the wind was pushing the fire towards the northern bell tower, they switched their efforts to save that structure instead. By 9:45 p.m., things were under control. This NYT report sheds light on the various elements that caused the fire at Notre-Dame to get so far out of control. By chronicling the night’s events, hour by hour, we can now see how fragile the cathedral truly was, and how close we were to losing it forever—and by some estimates, still are. An official investigation by the French government is still ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, though it’s believed that no malice was intended. As of yesterday, parliament has approved a bill to reconstruct Notre-Dame by 2024, meaning the $954 million collected in donations following the fire will go directly to the restoration. According to the Senate, the building will be rebuilt to historical accuracy, though it will be a while before that can begin. Work on reinforcing the structure is currently proceeding very slowly and the project’s chief architect says it could still collapse if the flying buttresses aren’t shored up properly, CNN reports.
Notre Dame’s medieval roof structure, known as "the forest," has been lost to the massive fire, according to the rector of the cathedral.The frame featured trees cut down between 1160 and 1170, forming one of the oldest parts of the structure.https://t.co/sGKyk2xNGy pic.twitter.com/gL8G3bc4SY — CNN (@CNN) April 16, 2019
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Of course, Foster isn’t the only architect to propose a radical overhaul of the 19th -century spire. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, known for his neo-Gothic, laser-cut steel sculptures, announced last week that he would be entering the design competition as well. Since the international competition was announced, plenty of people have gotten creative in envisioning “adaptive reuse” projects that give the historic cathedral a bland, modernist overhaul without regard for its surroundings. Even though these have been done in jest, some of them have come quite close to what Foster has proposed.
It's a Gothic cathedral not a conference centre in Essex.— Ispíní Mac Scúps (@LiamTheBrewer) April 20, 2019
Restoration of Notre Dame should be mindful of its past while revealing its unique potential as an urban mixed-use development. Here at Pick Rogarth + Baumsnatch, we believe... pic.twitter.com/7XkTyPppo7— C:\temp\ (@BryceElder) April 16, 2019
Following the blaze, French citizens took to the streets singing prayer songs and chanting in solidarity and mourning for France’s premier cultural and religious site. The cathedral welcomes over 13 million tourists every year according to official estimates and was currently undergoing restoration work. Some of the initial images seen from inside the still smoldering nave of the church taken by journalists Monday night showed damage that appeared less dire than originally feared. In short order, France’s wealthiest citizens began pledging large donations to help pay for the restoration of the cathedral. So far, over $600 million has been promised to the project. “This cathedral will be rebuilt, I promise you," French president Emmanuel Macron said in a speech following the blaze while announcing that a national campaign will get underway on Tuesday to collect the funds necessary for the rebuilding effort. Macron added, “We will rebuild Notre Dame because that is what the French expect and it is what the French deserve.”
The intensity of the flames coming out of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris... pic.twitter.com/JDAMCXFMk4— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 15, 2019