The world mourned with Paris as a fire tore through the Cathedral of Notre Dame last month.
It's been over a month since a fire ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, consuming its spire and most of the roof. Although the blaze has long since been extinguished, the historic church still isn't safe from the elements as the slow rebuilding process begins.
Notre Dame for centuries has been a landmark wrapped into Parisian identity, and the April 15 fire gripped the internet. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter became key venues for news updates, vented emotions and shows of support.
The Gothic cathedral, which dates from the 12th century, is a masterpiece with its flying buttresses, breathtaking stained glass windows and carved gargoyles, inside its walls are priceless Catholic relics and artifacts, paintings, statues and other precious artwork.
The cathedral's facade has been the subject of countless paintings and its soaring form also inspired Victor Hugo's famous novel, Notre-Dame de Paris or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aside from being one of the most important religious sites in France, it's also one of the city's most visited monuments.
Experts now plan to fortify what's left of the 850-year-old structure.
French judicial police believe an electrical short-circuit is most likely what caused the fire. According to an anonymous official who spoke with the Associated Press, investigators still aren't allowed inside the cathedral for safety reasons.
Authorities continue to investigate the fire as an accident but are taking the cathedral's outdated fire prevention safeguards into consideration, The New York Times reported. Valérie Pécresse, president of the Île-de-France region in which Paris lies, confirmed that the fire was an accident, though officials haven't elaborated on the exact cause. Paris police said it may be linked to the .8 million renovation efforts underway.
In addition, elements like firewalls and sprinkler systems were reportedly missing from Notre Dame's attic, where the fire burned, by choice. Electrical wiring reportedly wasn't allowed in the cathedral's attic to preserve its original design and to protect the lead ceiling's timber support beams.
It took nine hours and more than 400 firefighters to bring the blaze under control and eventually put it out altogether. No deaths were reported, but one firefighter was reportedly seriously injured.
The greatest danger the cathedral faces is the wind, Paolo Vannucci, the engineer who originally warned about the risks inside Notre Dame in the event of a fire, told La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, in mid-May. Vannucci said the landmark could withstand winds over 137 miles per hour before the fire. Since the blaze, that strength has diminished by 60%. Vannucci thinks it will take months to begin secure the edifice.
"According to my calculations, the risks of a collapse at the level of the vault are still high," Vannucci told La Repubblica.
Though fire crews initially said they "may not be able to save Notre Dame," they were able to preserve the main structure including the outer walls and the two bell towers. Photos from inside the cathedral taken April 16 showed debris still smoldering around the altar. Later, a tweet surfaced showing that the rooster from the iconic spire survived the fire.
Artifacts and artwork were saved by Parisian fire services and the city's deputy mayor for tourism and sports, Jean-Francois Martins, and his team. They were able to salvage the Crown of Thorns, the Blessed Sacrament and other items. The rescued works were transported to the Louvre Museum for safekeeping. Copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists had been removed for cleaning as part of the restoration project.
"We made a human chain, with our friends from the church ... to get, as quick as possible, to get all the relics," Martins told CBS News. "Everything is safe and undamaged, and in our really bad day, we had one good news."
Additionally, three beehives -- home to about 180,000 bees -- located beneath the rose window survived the fire. Notre Dame's beekeeper, Nicolas Geant, said he received a call from the cathedral's spokesperson, who said the bees were flying in and out of their hives. Geant posted photos of bees buzzing around one of the gargoyles last month.
Nos abeilles de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris sont toujours en vie !! Confirmation de la part des responsables du site !! ❤????❤ Notre-Dame's bees are still alive !! #Beeopic #apiculture #abeilles #ruches #NotreDame #Notredamedeparis #cathedrale #ambroise #saintambroise #stambroise #miracle
A post shared by Beeopic ???? (@beeopic) on
The building's spire and part of the roof disintegrated in the fire.
The fire started shortly after the cathedral closed around 6:45 p.m. local time on April 15 and grew quickly in windy conditions. The narrow streets, the heat of the flames and the cathedral's positioning along the River Seine made it difficult for firefighters to get closer.
At around 7:53 p.m., the spire fell amid the flames. Less than 15 minutes later, part of the roof collapsed, Reuters reported. The island where the cathedral is located, Paris' Ile de la Cité, was evacuated just before 8:30 p.m.
It looked dire. "Everything is burning; nothing will remain from the frame," Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told CBS News shortly after the blaze began.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that "perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out," but the civil defense agency of the French government responded that firefighters are using all means to combat the blaze, "except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral."
Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control. All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.
Images of the fire quickly swept the globe on social media. In Paris, France 24 reported, people gathered and to sing Ave Maria and Catholic hymns.
"Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. France 24 reported that Macron considered the fire a national emergency.
In a tweet, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters were working to control the flames, and she urged residents and visitors to respect the security perimeter.
Un terrible incendie est en cours à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Les @PompiersParis sont en train de tenter de maîtriser les flammes. Nous sommes mobilisés sur place en lien étroit avec le @dioceseParis. J'invite chacune et chacun à respecter le périmètre de sécurité. pic.twitter.com/9X0tGtlgba
Much like after the terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015, politicians, religious leaders and ordinary citizens from around the world also tweeted statements of support.
"The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of #NotreDame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world." @AGisotti pic.twitter.com/cRjUxkxRwa
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzB
Social media also indulged in one of its favorite pastimes — conspiracy theories — after a US politician tweeted out unverified information when a friend in Europe told him the fire was set intentionally.
Christopher Hale, who ran for Congress in Tennessee and writes opinion columns for Time magazine, quickly noted that his friend's information hadn't been confirmed, and he deleted his original tweet, according to The Daily Beast. But that didn't stop far-right conspiracy theorists from using Hale's tweet as proof that terrorists had started the fire.
"In retrospect, I absolutely never should have tweeted it in the first place," Hale told the publication. "I don't think I had the foresight about how much the worst parts of the internet will grasp for straws in their conspiracy theories."
Again, French authorities didn't suggest arson as a cause for the blaze.
Last month, firefighters from the Paris Fire Brigade attended a reception in their honor at Macron's residence, the Élysée Palace. According to The New York Times, there was an additional ceremony scheduled for later in the day.
President Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame. Donations poured in from French philanthropists and charities to fund the extensive rebuilding costs.
The University of Notre Dame in the US donated 0,000 to the cathedral's relief and rang campus basilica's bell 50 times the day after the fire.
IBM has pledged to give 1 million euros, while Apple CEO Tim Cook also tweeted that his company would donate funds. Disney reportedly pledged million to the restoration efforts. Disney produced The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an animated adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel in 1996.
Here are a few places to get you started if you're interested in being a part of rebuilding the cathedral:
If you want to visit or relive a trip there, you can see virtual tours both inside the majestic halls and from a birds-eye view of the timeless architecture.
Originally published April 15.Updates April 16-18, April 22 and May 29: Added information about the fire and its aftermath, and what lies ahead.B:
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