Barack Obama, the former US President, has tweeted:
This article from the LA Times archive, courtesy of a reader, pours scorn on the idea that flying water tankers are actually useful. You may remember Trump tweeting earlier to suggest deploying them, “quickly”.
Although the sight of air tankers, referred to disparagingly as ‘CNN drops’ by fire officials, “swooping toward a wildfire”can be reassuring, it is sometimes “a needless and expensive exercise to appease politicians”.
Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won’t do any good. Such pressure has resulted in needless and costly air operations, experienced fire managers said in interviews.
The reason for the interference, they say, is that aerial drops of water and retardant make good television. They’re a highly visible way for political leaders to show they’re doing everything possible to quell a wildfire, even if it entails overriding the judgment of incident commanders on the ground.
Firefighters have developed their own vernacular for such spectacles. They call them “CNN drops.”
“A lot of people do a lot of things for publicity and for politics that don’t need to be done,” said Jim Ziobro, fire aviation chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The “worst has been avoided”, says Macron
Macron says the worst has been avoided “although the battle is not yet totally won” and that “we will rebuild Notre Dame together”, announcing an international fundraising campaign is to be launched and calling on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.
“What’s happened this evening is obviously a terrible drama. [Emergency services fought the fire] with extreme courage, professionalism and determination… I would like to thank them on behalf of the entire nation.
“This is our history, and it’s burning.”
The French leader credited the “courage” and “great professionalism” of firefighters with sparing Notre Dame’s facade and two landmark towers from being destroyed.
“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives,” Macron told reporters in front of the still burning Paris landmark.
“Notre-Dame is burning, and I know the sadness, and this tremor felt by so many fellow French people. But tonight, I’d like to speak of hope too,.
“Let’s be proud, because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago, we’ve built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it. So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”
Rector of Notre-Dame, Patrick Jacquin, has reportedly told local media that the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of St Louis have both been recovered.
However, fears remain for the many priceless artworks and artefacts still housed inside the cathedral.
Fire started accidentally – preliminary investigation
Prosecutors believe the fire started accidentally, based on their preliminary investigation.
They later said they had ruled out arson and do not believe the fire was terror-related but police will conduct an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire”.
A French official and the Paris fire chief have told the Associated Press that they think Notre Dame Cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.
Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet says that a major accomplishment of the hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry. “We can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved.”
The structure of the cathedral has been saved, and the fire has been stopped from spreading to the northern belfry, Paris police said.
The junior interior minister Laurent Nuñez says that authorities remain “prudent” but are “much more optimistic” than they were earlier tonight.
He defended the fact water-bombing planes were not been used, as suggested by US President Donald Trump, saying that such action would have posed a “major danger” for the structure.
He adds that the fire has “decreased in intensity” and “the structure of the building is saved, including the north tower.”
Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame’s roofing “has been ravaged.” He says one firefighter was injured, adding that fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.
Notre Dame Cathedral has been much beloved yet also neglected down the centuries, says a French historian.
Middle Ages specialist Claude Gauvard told AFP there was no overstating the site’s cultural resonance, but she added it had not always been treated with due reverence.
Notre Dame “is a symbol of Paris, a symbol of peace, togetherness and concord… which occupies an exceptional site at the heart of the city.”
It is also kilometre zero – the spot from which all distances to other cities from the French capital are measured.
For me it is perhaps one of the most harmonious of cathedrals, symbolising at once the work of the craftsmen who built it – though through the ages it has been much loved and yet unloved.
Notre-Dame de Paris is much loved by the millions of French people and foreigners who visit each year – yet they enter and go out again, I am sure, without quite understanding just what this cathedral is.
It was much mutilated during both the Renaissance and the 18th century – for example, they didn’t hesitate to hack away at the main entrance to get through the king’s dais!
It needed all the 19th century labours of Prosper Merimee, Victor Hugo, (Eugene) Viollet-le-Duc and (Jean-Baptiste) Lassus which allowed the Gothic art to be restored to its rightful place.
The ongoing works finally got started – and it was high time, and perhaps even a little late. I went up to the foot of the spire (before the renovations began) and some of the brickwork was disjointed, held in place by a grate to prevent it falling…
Notre Dame’s problem is that it comes under several jurisdictions: the Archbishopric, Paris, historic monuments, etc. That complicates its maintenance. I hope that national, indeed international donations will be forthcoming to finance the restoration as it’s going to be very costly.
Two towers saved, but fireman seriously injured – reports
The two towers of Notre Dame have been saved, a firefighting official has told Reuters.
However, a fireman has reportedly been seriously injured.
Main structure “saved and preserved”
Notre Dame’s main structure has been “saved and preserved”, a Paris fire official has announced.
“We can consider that the two towers of the north belfry Notre-Dame have been saved,” he tells BFMTV. “The structure of Our Lady is saved as a whole.”
There are unconfirmed reports that Notre Dame’s three medieval rose windows – la rosace ouest (1225) la rosace nord (1250) la rosace sud (1250) – have exploded in the intense heat.
Ben Derbyshire, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, says:
The news of the tragedy this evening is of immeasurable significance worldwide. The loss of the roof and spire of Notre Dame, and possibly the stone vault too, is an irreplaceable blow to the heritage of French Gothic architecture. Our heart goes out to the people of France, and to lovers of our shared cultural heritage wherever they are.
This image appears to have been taken about half an hour ago from a French police drone, as around 400 firefighters attempt to stop the destruction of the cathedral.
Representatives from the Church of England have spoken out, as the fire continues to cause significant damage.
The Church of England’s director of cathedrals and church buildings, Becky Clark, says:
The fire and the destruction it has caused are heart-breaking. We stand together in prayer with all who love Notre Dame: its worshipping community, those who have visited, and those who only know it from afar. We understand their sense of loss, and the uplifting connection people feel with cathedrals and churches the world over.
But no matter the destruction, the spirit of what it means to be a cathedral can and does survive such catastrophes.
In England, the spire at Lincoln collapsed in the 1500s, St Paul’s was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and Coventry was destroyed by bombs. All have been rebuilt, sometimes taking on new forms, to stand as reminders of eternity and resurrection which are the foundation of the Christian faith.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: “Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic Notre Dame fire – and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Chris. Nous sommes avec vous.”
The Guardian view on the Notre Dame fire: we share France’s terrible loss:
It feels as though the very heart of France and the soul of Europe have been suddenly and viciously ripped out. The fire that coursed through large sections of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday evening was an act of blind and terrible destruction that causes a great stab of emotional pain to us all.
The cathedral will rise again in time. This terrible fire is not an event that should be trivialised or banalised. Yet, at a moment like this, how foolish it seems to pretend that we are not all Europeans. We stand with France in its hour of heartbreak. We will never, ever, turn away.
Margot Fassler, a professor of theology and an expert on Medieval cathedrals who has led tours of the Notre Dame Cathedral, says:
The Cathedral ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ is the cradle of late medieval music. Much of the imagination of those involved in European, religion, culture and music is tied to this place.
Late 12th- and early 13th- century polyphonic repertory created at Notre Dame has provided an understanding of how musicians learned to capture rhythm in their notational systems. The innovative musicians Adam of St. Victor, Leonin, and Perotin were all connected to the cathedral in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Although the building has been constantly reshaped over time, much of the architecture and sculpture dates back to the original building, which was completed in around a century beginning in the 1160s. The thirteenth-century rose windows and the organs are assumed to be among the casualties.
The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has tweeted: