By now, most of the world has seen footage of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral that happened yesterday. We watched in horror as the spire inevitably came crashing down after being engulfed in flames and photos depicting the aftermath show much of the roof is now completely destroyed.
So how did the fire start? While the investigation is still underway to pinpoint exactly how the cathedral caught flame, some details have finally come to light about the hours leading up to the destruction of the spire, as well as information on how exactly the fire spread.
TL;DR A timeline shows the trajectory of the tragic fire that spread from the spire across the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Details about where and when the fire began below.
According to The New York Times, two fire alarms went off before smoke was seen inside the Cathedral. The first alarm occurred at 6:20 PM but no fire was found. Routine checks are done by "fire monitors" around the roof area that was constructed entirely of wooden beams. This section was even called "the forest" by those that work at the Cathedral.
About twenty minutes later, a second fire alarm went off, and a fire was found in "the forest" of wooden beams that made up the roof. The assumption is still that the fire was an accident.
The New York Times' source also explained that because a Mass had just started in the Cathedral, the tourists that would have otherwise been present had already been evacuated. Because of this, there were minimal injuries caused by the fire. However, the NYT does note two police officers and one firefighter did sustain injuries.
The scaffolding that had been put in place to help with the renovations acted like kindling, helping the fire to spread quickly. Two-thirds of the roof was destroyed by 11 PM.
Much of the firefighters' work was removing artifacts, a procedure that the NYT notes they had been trained specifically for last year. Notably, they were able to save the crown of thorns and a linen piece of fabric associated with S. Louis.
The sixteen statues of the Apostles and Evangelists that normally stand around the Cathedral had been removed to allow the renovations of the spire to commence.
The photo above shows where the spark of the flame began, just below the spire, and how it then was able to spread outward as the spire caught flame and eventually fell, spreading the flames across the roof. The wooden roof inevitably burned and fell through.
The exact cause of the initial spark that caused the fire to begin remains unknown. We will update with any more information that comes to light about this tragic fire.