Notre-Dame Cathedral Engulfed in Flames

Cece Phillips, Reporter

In the afternoon of April 15 (6:30pm in Paris), the world watched as the 856 year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was shrouded in flames and smoke. The Cathedral was undergoing restorations when the fire began in the attic, according to the New York Times.

An icon of French history, the Notre-Dame Cathedral was built over the course of  nearly a 200-year construction period, according to the Notre Dame Cathedral Website, beginning in the year 1163. Initial construction was completed in 1345 and the cathedral has remained standing ever since.

Although the specifics of the fire are still unknown, French officials told CNN that arson and terrorism have been ruled out as possible causes of the incident. Officials have stated that the fire was likely a result of complications with the ongoing restoration of the building.

With the mass media coverage of the fire as it happened, over $1 billion has been donated to help with rebuilding the historic cathedral, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt says that the people of France have really been “brought together” in the wake of this tragedy, which is “bittersweet,” in an interview with CNN on April 17.

McCourt told CNN while the world’s reaction has been overwhelmingly sympathetic, “people should not wait for something extreme to happen like this,” in order to be brought together. According to McCourt, there are “tons of people on the street” in Paris, coming together as a country and a family. “There’s so much hope about rebuilding, and all the things it can be. President [Emmanuel] Macron has said it will be even better than it was before, and I actually believe that as well. The French are incredibly resilient,” said McCourt to CNN.

President Macron is “confident” that the Cathedral will be fully restored to her former glory in time for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, and pledged on April 16 that the Notre-Dame will be rebuilt “within the next five years,” according to NBC news, however the article states that pledge is highly unrealistic.

Macron’s confidence seems to be based more on optimism than realism, according to NBC. In similar circumstances, the Notre-Dame Cathedral was badly damaged in the second World War, and is still undergoing restoration projects nearly 70 years later.

Peter Fuessenich, who is leading the reconstruction of the cathedral, said “it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired,” in an interview with Fox News.

The New York Times has published a series of photos that show the fire of the cathedral, as well as the aftermath.