Investigators believe they have pinpointed the cause of the fire that ripped through Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday April 15, according to CNN. After a careful review of footage and photography from locals, investigators believe the fire was related to the elevators that were built for construction workers. From there, the fire progressed from the center of the timber roof toward the base of the spiral.
Construction of the Notre Dame in Paris’s Île de la Cité began under the reign of Louis VII in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III. Construction of the gothic cathedral was not completed until 1345, nearly two centuries later. Since its completion, the building has been the scene of numerous historical events and various renovations, reports BBC News.
The building was damaged during the French Revolution in the 1790s when mobs and revolutionaries declared the building a “Temple of Reason” after ransacking the interior. Statues of biblical figures were beheaded in response to the guillotine.
Later, during the Paris Commune revolution in 1871, anti-clericals tried to set fire to the framework. It also survived both world wars relatively unscathed, standing strong enough to ring a tenor bell at the end of Nazi occupation of France in 1944.
With the roof and spire gone after 15 hours of burning, renovations of the French cathedral will begin soon. Hundreds of millions of euros have been pledged to help rebuild, according to a BBC update. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to reconstruct the historic building even as it was still burning.
Companies and business tycoons have pledged a collective $677 million as of the writing of this report. Offers of physical help for reconstruction have flooded in from around the globe. The overall cost of the damage is upward of $1 billion. Restoration could take up to fifteen years, according to CNBC.
As to the extent of the damage, Paris fire brigade spokesman Lt-Col Gabriel Plus said, “The whole of the roof has been devastated… a part of the vault has collapsed, the spire is no more.” He agrees, however, that the damage could have been much worse. Chancel windows appear undamaged, the pulpit and the altar with its cross remain intact, and much of the artwork, including the Crown of Thorns, was rescued, according to the New York Times.
Remarkably, even the 200,000 bees that lived on the cathedral’s rooftop survived the blaze, according to Livekindly. Beekeeper Nicholas Geant said that the bees react differently to carbon dioxide than humans do. “Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,” he explained. “I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but it wasn’t likely, and I’m very, very happy.” Unlike a building, bee populations cannot be restored.
For the French, society is back on its feet. Protests against the current administration resumed with many calling the blaze a fitting undertone for the current state of their government.