On this episode of What happened to…? Erica Vella revisits the Notre Dame cathedral fire in April 2019 that threatened the future of the historic building.
On April 15, 2019, a fire ravaged the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The world watched with despair as the spire came crashing down and firefighters worked to save the building.
Michel Picaud, who created Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, had been at the cathedral earlier that day working on plans to restore the centuries-old cathedral.
“We were working, as usual, on the different steps of restoration.… The first step was the restoration of this spire and I was preparing, by the way, the next round of fundraising for the following steps of the restoration,” he said.
At 6:30 p.m. local time, Picaud said he arrived home and received a phone call telling him the cathedral was on fire.
“I came to the to the square in front of the cathedral.… This was really a terrible, terrible moment for me to look at this and … to realize that actually what we had worked on for the last two years was completely to zero because it was all in flames,” Picaud said.
“We didn’t know whether the building would be even saved there.”
The flames began just before 7 p.m. local time and spread rapidly throughout the cathedral, which is one of Europe’s most well-known structures.
By 7:40 p.m., the fire had spread to the spire, which collapsed just before 8 p.m.
About 400 firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses, as police and other emergency personnel cleared the area.
It wasn’t until the early hours the following day that the fire was considered under control.
The iconic cathedral’s towers were saved, but its roof structure was lost, the church’s rector said.
Firefighters worked diligently to save the towers and to keep a bell from collapsing, but their efforts could not save a roof structure that dated to the year 1220, said Msgr. Patrick Chauvet.
On this episode of Global News What happened to…? Erica Vella looks back on the history of the gothic cathedral and finds out how the fire nearly threatened its future. She also discovers how much work is underway to repair and restore the building.
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