A devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned for 15 hours, destroying the roof, the steeple, and one stained glass window.
The wooden roof was known as “the forest” because, according to experts, the roof was built with about 13,000 oak trees.
On Tuesday, junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez spoke to the press on what investigators have found as the search begins.
Nunez says that “some weaknesses” in the structure have been identified.
He says that there are weaknesses in the vault, gable and northern transept.
The vault is effectively the ceiling of the cathedral, made up of stone arches that intersect each other. The Gothic arch was widely utilized in France. The design allows for windows to be placed high up on a structure without taking support away from the wooden roof built atop the arch.
The gable is at the end of the building. The transepts are the “arms” that extend from the center of cross-shaped building, like the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz says that the fire was an accident, not an act of arson.
“Nothing suggests that it was a voluntary act,” Heitz tells reporters.
The famed cathedral had been under extensive renovations at the time of the fire.
Police have interviewed workmen who were on the site. Investigators believe the fire was related to the renovation work on the cathedral.
Three days before the fire, sixteen copper statutes were removed from the roof as part of the renovation. The statues represent the twelve apostles and four evangelists. These statues were not harmed in the fire.
A large number of works of art and sacred relics were also removed from the church during the fire.
Fire chaplain entered burning Notre Dame to save Crown of Thorns relic https://t.co/6onPiXTiQN
— Kim Willsher (@kimwillsher1) April 16, 2019
Some large paintings suffered water-related damage. The cathedral organ was affected by the fire.
One firefighter and two police officers were injured during the nighttime fight against the blaze.
As of Tuesday morning, about $734 million (€650 million) has been raised to fund the reconstruction.
The reconstruction of Notre Dame will be slow, based on other historic buildings that suffered significant damage.
The president of France vowed on Tuesday that the cathedral will be rebuilt within five years.