Massive fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris causes roof to collapse (Update: Billionaire commits $110M to rebuilding)

A massive fire has broken out at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The damage appears to be devastating. As you’ll see below, much of the roof, which was built with oak timbers that are 800 years old, has collapsed.

Given some of the hoax videos we’ve seen recently, I was hoping this was someone’s bad idea of a joke but there are multiple videos showing this:

You can see roof timbers collapsing in this one:

There was some scaffolding around the area where the fire was burning. This picture is from a week ago.

Is the fire connected to the construction? From the BBC:

The cause was not immediately clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.

Images on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the air above the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Last year, the Catholic Church in France launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the cathedral, which was starting to crumble.

France 24 reporting the roof has collapsed:

And now the spire, which is called “the arrow,” has collapsed:

From the NY Times:

“It hurts to watch this. The cathedral is the symbol, the heart of Paris,” said Pierre-Eric Trimovillas, 32. The crowd gasped and cried in horror as the spire fell, Mr. Trimovillas said, adding, “Paris is beheaded.”

Angelique de Almeida, 32, watched the fire through tears. “We are going to lose her, everything is up in flames,” she said. “We lose this, we lose Paris. It is apocalyptic. And this is the Holy Week.”

President Trump has tweeted about the fire:

The Cathedral’s website has a section on framing which says the wooden frame was built between 1160 and 1240. Here’s a photo of what it looked like:

I’ll continue to update this story throughout the day.

Update: In the clips above the top portion of the Arrow collapsed. In this clip you can see the lower portion has also fallen:

President Macron tweeted: “Notre-Dame de Paris is engulfed in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Our thoughts go to all Catholics and all French people. Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of us burning.”

Update: More reactions from France 24:

“Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,” said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s, who had biked over after being alerted of the fire by a friend. “It’s a tragedy,” he added. “If you pray, now is the time to pray.”

Police were attempting to clear pedestrians away from the two islands in the river Seine, including the Ile de la Cite which houses the soaring Gothic church. But throngs of onlookers kept trying to approach, snarling traffic as they massed on the stone bridges leading to the islands.

“It’s finished, we’ll never be able to see it again,” said Jerome Fautrey, a 37-year-old who had come to watch. “Now we need to know how this happened — with everything that’s going on in the world, why Notre-Dame? Maybe it’s a message from on high,” he said.

One police officer, arriving on one of the bridges, turned up to gape, saying “Oh my god.

France 24 reports that some of the money for the restoration which was underway had come from Americans:

As part of the restoration, some of the figures of saints were removed from the building last week:

From CBS (in 2011), an interesting story about how Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (published in 1831) saved the cathedral after the French Revolution:

Update: Most of the stone structure remains intact.

Update: A billionaire commits $100 million Euros to rebuilding.

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