Notre-Dame LATEST: Cathedral structure shows signs of ‘some weaknesses’

The fire that gutted Paris' iconic Notre-Dame cathedral started accidentally, the Paris prosecutor confirmed on Tuesday morning as a government minister said that "sme weaknesses" had been identified in the structure.

Notre-Dame LATEST: Cathedral structure shows signs of 'some weaknesses'
Photo: AFP

Main info at 12:15

  • Fire completely extinguished but doubts remain over structure
  • Cause was accidental, not arson
  • Minister says structure shows signs of “some weaknesses”
  • Experts meeting to assess damage
  • Two police officers and one firefighter injured
  • Billionaires pledge €300 million to completely rebuild Notre-Dame

On Tuesday junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez told the press that “some weaknesses” had been identified in the structure of Notre-Dame a day after the cathedral was ravaged by a colossal fire.

“Globally the structure is holding up well, but some weaknesses have been identified particularly in the vault and the gable of the northern transept, which have to be secured,” Nunez told reporters at the scene, adding that five neighbouring buildings had been evacuated.

The analysis was made by a group of experts, including the police and architects, who had been brought in to study the damage caused by the fire.

The horrific fire was finally declared extinguished at around 10am on Tuesday, over 15 hours after the fire first started in the attic of the famous cathedral.

But experts said the safety of the structure was still in doubt as firefighters and engineers gathered on the site.

Meanwhile the Paris prosecutor, who began an investigation as the flames still raged, confirmed on Tuesday morning that the cause was accidental, not an arson attack.

“Nothing suggests that it was a voluntary act,” Remy Heitz told reporters outside the Gothic cathedral, adding that workers employed at the site were being questioned over Monday's blaze.


“The whole fire has been extinguished. 

“Now we're in the phase of investigating,” spokesman Gabriel Plus told reporters on Tuesday morning, adding that the fire had spread “very quickly” through the wooden roof of the world renowned monument.

Briefing reporters in front of Notre-Dame in central Paris, Plus said firefighters had focused during the morning on the cathedral's two massive bell towers and making sure they had not been damaged.

“That is the case,” he said.

The task now is to monitor the structure, to see if it has moved at all and to put out remaining hot spots, he said, adding that about 100 firemen will remain on site for the whole day.

The blaze which erupted at about 7pm on Monday, completely engulfed the roof of the 850-year-old cathedral, causing the famous spire to collapse and part of the vault.

On Tuesday government ministers met to devise a reconstruction plan, while the investigation into the cause of the blaze continues. Police had interviewed workmen on the site with investigators believing the blaze was caused accidentally and was linked to renovation work at the historic cathedral.

Flames engulfed the roof and lead to the spire collapsing. Photo: AFP

Firefighters, engineers and experts were on the scene this morning, and warned that there are still doubts about the safety of the structure.

“The main structure has been saved but there is still a lot of instability, the situation is still precarious,” the Minister of Culture Franck Riester told French radio station France Inter.
Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said questions will look at how the structure has resisted the fire.
“Last night, two thirds of the roof burned, the spire collapsed, creating a hole in the vault, part of the transept collapsed.”
The minister added that he wants to “remain cautious” but also “optimistic”.
“The two bell tower and the works were saved, including the treasure, thanks to the courage of the Paris fire brigade.
“The crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint-Louis are safe at the Paris City Hall. The organ is obviously quite affected, the large paintings, a priori, have water-related damage. They will have to be restored.”
Paris firefighters managed to save many of the cathedral's treasures before being beaten back by the intensity of the flames.
One firefighter and two police officers were injured overnight. Their conditions are not known but the injuries are not thought to be serious.
As dawn broke dozens of locals visited the scene to see the damage and pay their respects.
One woman told The Local: “I'm very sad. I live in this arrondissement and Notre-Dame is part of my every day life. The cathedral is a great symbol of Paris and I used to visit every year with my mother.”
Another added: “I am so sad. We will rebuild it but it will never be the same again. It was like a nightmare watching those images last night.”

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Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

The great mediaeval edifice survived the inferno on April 15th, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

Scaffolding in the interior of the building as the restoration phase begins. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

The aim is to celebrate the first full service in the cathedral on April 16th, 2024 – five years after the fire – despite delays caused by the pandemic and the lead that spread during the blaze.

The Notre-Dame spire, a later addition to the medieval building, was completely destroyed in the blaze. Photos by AFP

Authorities will now call for tenders to select the companies to carry out the restoration work.

The cathedral’s interior walls and floors will also undergo “a thorough cleaning process” later this month.

Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is already being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

It is expected to be put together again in October 2023, said Georgelin, the former head of France’s armed forces who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee rebuilding efforts.