When the 856-year-old church in central Paris caught fire on April 15, the blaze consumed the structure’s entire wooden roof, collapsing its famous spire and destroying most of what remained inside the church nave and altar below. However, the cathedral’s stone superstructure remained intact, and the French government is intent on restoring the historic church to its former glory.
By April 23, work had begun to place a “big umbrella” over the church’s open roof so that work could begin inside on assessing the damage, salvaging what can be saved and beginning the painstaking process of restoration.
“The roof protection operation on Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral ended on Friday, April 26th,” says the Monday tweet by police in the French capital. “This work is the result of a perfect coordination between the various services and partners mobilized on the site.”
#NotreDame | L’opération de protection de la toiture de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris a pris fin le vendredi 26 avril.
Ce travail est le résultat d’une parfaite coordination entre les différents services et partenaires mobilisés sur le chantier. pic.twitter.com/Z7aOoDC9LD
— Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) April 29, 2019
Over $1 billion in donations has already poured in to fund the church’s renovation, coming from both ordinary parishioners as well as moneyed celebrities. Ironically, a restoration fund begun several months before the fire was having trouble reaching a much smaller goal, Sputnik reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged that restoration will take only five years. However, architects advised caution in an open letter published Monday in the French daily Le Figaro signed by over a thousand specialists.
“You have said, Mr. President, that you want to restore Notre-Dame,” the letter says. “It’s our desire too, but in doing so, let’s not do away with the complex thought that must go into this [project] for the appearance of efficiency. Let’s take time to evaluate.”
“The executive branch has to listen to the experts. France is home to some of the world’s best experts in this area,” the architects urged.
“We’ve been through similar catastrophes several times in history, and we have never before needed a special law. There are already well-established procedures that can be applied to situations like this one,” Etienne Hamon, a professor of medieval art history at the University of Lille and signatory to the letter, told France24 for a Monday article.
Hamon warned that if experts rush into rebuilding, they won’t be able to properly gauge the long-term damage caused by the fire — something that requires a large team of experts of different types.
Meanwhile, Paris police have warned residents in the immediate vicinity of the church that the blaze may have put large amounts of lead into the atmosphere.
Tests around the area showed a “very localized” presence of the toxic metal, which the now-collapsed spire contained large amounts of. The lead was found “notably on premises that may have been standing open at the time of the fire, and where dust had settled,” and officials advised folks living nearby to use wet wipes to remove as much dust as possible, Sputnik reported.
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