Report from France by Rachel Pommeyrol
Photos via the French Home Office on Twitter
“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature. (...) We will rebuild Notre-Dame, because the French people expect it,
because it is our profound destiny,” declared French President Emmanuel Macron, almost five hours after a huge fire
started in the cathedral on early Monday evening, French time.
An accident during renovation works started the fire, according to preliminary investigation. The cathedral spire
quickly collapsed and most of the roof was reduced to ashes. Around 400 firefighters attempted to reduce the damage and
to save the pieces of art and cultural objects that cathedral holds. One of them was severely injured, according to
official sources. Residents and tourists were evacuated and will be hosted until the situation is under control.
As of midnight local time – even though, according to a Paris fire official, the two towers and the main structure were
saved – fire was still burning inside Notre-Dame, with two-thirds of the roofing ravaged. When the fire is extinguished,
firefighters will have to evaluate the extent of the damage and to secure a framework to prevent a collapse.
President Macron cancelled a planned address to French people, expected to be a response to the demands around the
'Yellow Vest' protest movement, to visit Notre-Dame on Monday night. He praised the firefighters' work and declared that
Notre-Dame would be rebuilt. Many organisations have already collected money to rebuild the cathedral, which could take
dozens of years.
Theresa May posted on Twitter, “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who
are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.” Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, said on social media, “London stands
in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always.” Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and Justin Trudeau have also
expressed their support.
For the French people, Tuesday morning will bring an assessment of this sudden disaster which has deeply harmed their
culture and identity. And a time to rebuilt them.