Tue. Jul 16th, 2019

history burns in Paris

Incendio en la catedral de Notre Dame: la historia arde en París

Many centuries of history, French and European, burned yesterday in a few hours in Paris, causing a commotion on a planetary scale, not only among Catholics. The Terrible fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the main monuments of France, jewel of the Gothic and with almost 14 million visitors a year, left the country incredulous and very sad because of the chain of fatalities that have hit the capital and the country in recent years.

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Shortly after 11 o'clock at night, the person in charge of the firefighters, The general Jean-Claude GalletHe said that the exterior structure, including the main facade, with its two towers, would be saved. But as he spoke, the flames were still rising from the bowels of the temple, so the damage will be enormous, incalculable. Although some of the most valuable works of art were safeguarded, it is feared that many pieces, paintings, sculptures, goldsmith objects, an irretrievable historical heritage will have been lost.

Abrupt schedule change

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The fire broke out at 6.50 pm, near the roof, where large scaffolding had been installed for major restoration work. Therefore, the provisional hypothesis that is shuffled about the causes of the accident is that some element, material or machine related to these works could have triggered the fire, for fortuitous reasons. The responsible architect stated, however, that there were no operatives when the events occurred. There is also no news of injuries. The Paris Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation.

Aerial image of Notre Dame on fire

Aerial image of Notre Dame on fire

The spread of the flames was very rapid. The smoke column became visible from the entire city. The 500 firefighters participating in the operations had many difficulties to work, especially at the beginning, since their stairs do not go beyond 30 meters. Seeing a single fireman, at the top of the articulated arm of a crane, with the hose, throwing water into the interior of the cathedral, gave a feeling of helplessness, of a disaster out of control at the crucial hours that served to make the fire will gain potential. The structural characteristics and content of a Gothic cathedral complicated the work. A dramatic moment was when the main needle collapsed. A spokesman for the firefighters said the extinguishing work inside was being more effective than the outside. It is not known if the stained glass windows have resisted. The priority was to protect the main façade and the towers, an objective that was achieved.


In the difficult extinction involved 500 firefighters, at first overwhelmed

The area was immediately evacuated and cordoned off, and an appeal was made to the population to avoid moving to the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the Seine where the temple is located. It is estimated that there were about 2,000 people in the cathedral. Many of them happened to contemplate the spectacle from the bridges of the river.

The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, annulled the important radiotelevised statement that he had to make at 8:00 pm to announce new measures in the face of the crisis of the yellow vests. Then he went towards the cathedral area. So did the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral on fire during the night

The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral on fire during the night
(Reuters / ACN)

The first reaction of the head of state was through a tweet. Macron highlighted the "emotion of the whole nation" before the image of the cathedral in flames and said that his thought was addressed "to all Catholics and all the French." "Like all our compatriots, I am sad this afternoon to see burn a part of us." Later, already in situ, Macron made a solemn promise: "We will rebuild it. We will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect, what our history deserves, our deep destiny. " He also announced a national and international collection.

It is obvious that the fire of Notre Dame, in the middle of Holy Week, has taken place in a very delicate political and social moment. The sinister has been an additional blow, of undoubted symbolic power, to the French self-esteem. The cathedral has been the protagonist of literary works (Victor Hugo) and state funerals -de De Gaulle, Pompidou, Mitterrand and other figures-, of the coronation as Emperor of Napoleon. Wars and revolutions had respected her.

If a few weeks ago, during the protest demonstrations, Paris offered to the world unsettling images of burning vehicles and premises, during the demonstrations, and of looted and destroyed shops, in the Champs Elysees, now it is the cathedral that has burned. It is a sad concatenation of news and shocking photos, only a few years after the terrorist attacks against the editorial of the weekly Charlie Hebdo, against the concert hall Bataclan and other crowded places.

Beyond the declarations of consternation, with the fire still alive, began to talk about reconstruction. Unesco, which lists Notre Dame as a world heritage site, offered all its help. The president of the European Council, the Polish Donald Tusk, spoke of "Notre Dame of all Europe", to show his solidarity with France and Paris. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, had one of his habitual outcasts and tried to give advice. He suggested that the firemen were wrong. "It is horrible to see the tremendous fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris," he wrote in a tweet, adding, "Perhaps tankers could be used to shut it down. You must act quickly! "A spokesman for the firefighters and the Secretary of State for Security explained that throwing tons of water from planes at high speed could cause the landslides of the still standing parts to collapse.

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