IN PICTURES: Fire and reconstruction at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral

IN PICTURES: Fire and reconstruction at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral
All photos: AFP
One year on from the blaze that devastated Paris' historic Notre Dame cathedral, the site sits empty as reconstruction work is halted by the lockdown.

On the evening of April 15th, 2019, fire broke out in the roof of Paris' 13th century Notre-Dame cathedral, which at the time was undergoing renovation work.

Within a shockingly short time, the flames had engulfed the roof, bringing the cathedral's spire crashing to the ground as thousands of Parisians watched in horror.

After an all-night firefighting operation the Pompiers de Paris managed to bring the flames under control and no-one was hurt during the fire.

The ashes had barely cooled before the political row broke out – with traditionalists wanting to restore it exactly as it was while modernists wanted to take the opportunity to add something different, pointing out that the destroyed spire was a much later addition to the cathedral's roof.

Ideas circulated including a glass spire, a rooftop garden and a rooftop swimming pool before the French Senate decided that it should be restored in a more traditional way.

 

The exact shape of the restoration is yet to be decided.

Work finally began in late 2019 on the delicate task of dismantling the twisted and partially melted scaffolding that had been surrounding the roof when the fire broke out and clearing the burned and blackened beams so that restoration can begin.

However all work came to a halt when France enacted a nationwide lockdown on March 17th in an attempt to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

With lockdown extended until May 11th, it looks increasingly unlikely that president Emmanuel Macron's ambition to have it fully restored in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024 will not be realised.

The cause of the fire was found to be accidental, although prosecutors have been unable to determine whether it was faulty wiring in the renovation works or a poorly extinguished cigarette that started the blaze.

At 8pm on Wednesday, the cathedral's bells will ring out to mark the anniversary of the fire.


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