Is Paris Burning?

15 Apr

We’ve been glued to the TV most of the afternoon, watching and listening as Notre Dame de Paris burns.

In many ways it is an eerie replay of 9/11, seeing the structure crumble, but this time there seems to have been no loss of life, and it doesn’t seem to have been arson.  The first reports are that the fire began in the attic, which gave visitors and workmen time to evacuate. One person they interviewed said he and his family were just inside, and as other people left hurriedly they were asked to leave, too. At that time, they did not know what the problem was – they simply thought it was closing time – but it very quickly became obvious that the cathedral was on fire.

At the moment – 6PM – the fire is “under control” but there is a lot of concern about the two towers on the front of the building. The fire is so hot that they don’t want to spray too much water for fear of cracking the stone, but there is a real danger that the bells – which are massive – might fall, which would cause a total disaster.

Authorities have been trying to rescue the many, many precious works of art, as well as the relics housed in the cathedral. The crowds outside are massive, but very quiet. They have been singing hymns all through the evening. The fire broke out around 5 PM local time, and it is now pushing midnight, and many people look as if they are in for the long haul.

9:30 here, and things seem to be settling a bit in Paris. There are still some hot spots, but the fire is pretty much out. The organ and most of the stained glass windows survived, and the bell towers did not collapse. That was a real concern, as those bells crashing to the ground would have caused a monumental amount of damage. President Macron has spoken to the French people, and expressed his gratitude to the fire fighters and other emergency responders, there were no casualties, and the fire seems to have been an accident.

All is not well in the world, but it could have been infinitely worse. Bad enough, heaven knows, but it could have been even worse.



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