Notre Dame staff could not find the fire for 23 MINUTES after the first alarm rang out delaying arrival of firefighters
While the damage to the iconic cathedral was limited, there have been questions about whether the incident was preventable after it emerged that firefighters initially could not find the fire.
The first fire alarm went inside the Notre Dame Cathedral at 6:20 p.m. Monday, but then even after 23 minutes after the signal none of the cathedral staff could locate the fire. However, it wasn't until a second alarm went off at 6:43 p.m. that the fire was detected in the attic of the church, French officials said Tuesday.
Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz revealed firefighters were called to the cathedral almost half an hour before the roof caught fire and then, later on, they discovered it in the network of wooden beams under the cathedral's roof after a second alarm went off.
The fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, April 15, tore through the 850-year-old building, causing significant structural damage. Its iconic spire and roof collapsed, and considerable damage was also done to its interior, upper walls, and windows. Now, the authorities are coming out to reveal the damage sustained to some of its most prized artifacts.
According to the Daily Mail, Franck Riester, France's culture minister, said that the cathedral's main organ "seems to be quite affected" by the blaze. Laurent Prades, the steward of the cathedral's interior patrimony, said the two pipe organs were not significantly damaged but that they took a lot of soot and dust and are "currently unusable."
While firefighters who rushed into the cathedral during the blaze reported that some of the large paintings were too heavy to take down from the walls and save, Riester said they had been mostly undamaged save for suffering some effects of the smoke. "The large paintings, at first glance, have not been affected by the fire. But, often in these situations, there is water damage," he was quoted telling reporters.
Michel Christian Alain Aupetit, the Archbishop of Paris, similarly confirmed that the cathedral's three historic "really irreplaceable" rose windows on the north, west, and south sides — which had first been installed in the 13th century — had all survived as well.
However, questions have been raised on whether the damage could have been further limited after reports indicated that officials fighting the Notre Dame blaze could not find any signs of the fire despite alarms being raised 23 minutes before the structure went up in a blaze.
The cathedral was built using all-wood frame which had earned it the nickname of 'The Forest,' with it estimated that 1,300 trees were used in the construction of this frame. The official website for the Cathedral states that the frame includes roughly 52-acres of wood in total, and a French cultural heritage expert claimed that the country no longer has trees big enough to replace the ancient wooden beams that fell during the blaze.
However, that is unlikely to hamper renovation efforts. France's richest man, multi-billionaire Bernard Arnault, pledged $222 million towards the restoration of the cathedral. French tycoon Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, has similarly pledged $130 million.
French president Emmanuel Macron has also vowed to rebuild the cathedral, whatever the cost. "We will appeal to the greatest talents and we will rebuild Notre-Dame because that's what the French are waiting for because that's what our history deserves, because it's our deepest destiny," he said.