Notre-Dame Photos: A Fire and Its Aftermath – The New York Times

The devastating fire swept through the cathedral in the evening, riveting the world’s attention as nearly 500 firefighters raced to the scene. Thousands of Parisians gathered nearby to watch the effort to save it, and pray. Many were in tears.

[Here are photos of Notre-Dame over the years before the fire.]

As the last rush of tourists tried to get inside, the doors of Notre-Dame were shut abruptly and without explanation, witnesses said. Within moments, white smoke started rising from the spire, which, at 295 feet, was the highest part of the cathedral.

As it billowed out, the smoke started turning gray, then black, making it clear that a fire was growing inside the cathedral, which is covered in scaffolding. Soon, orange flames began punching out of the spire, quickly increasing in intensity.

Work on Notre-Dame, a celebrated icon of medieval architecture, began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. The cathedral, on an island in the center of Paris, is visited by about 13 million people a year.

“It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” said Pierre Guillaume Bonnet, 45, a marketing director. “For me, there are so many memories tied up in it.”

The largest of the cathedral’s bells, which dates to 1681, survived the French Revolution and has been rung at some of the most important events in French history, including both World Wars.


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