Notre Dame Cathedral fire caused by 'electrical short circuit', investigators believe
The devastating fire that ravaged Paris' 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral was most likely caused by an 'electrical short circuit,' a French judicial police official told The Associated Press. Investigators are not allowed to work in the cathedral at this time due to safety concerns, said the official, who spoke anonymously. The monument's fragile walls are still being consolidated by wooden planks.
On Monday, the world watched with shock and horror as one of the symbols of Paris was engulfed in flames. The blaze obliterated the medieval roof, which was made out of a literal forest of trees, plus topped the iconic 300-foot spire. Fortunately, a team of Paris firefighters prevented the structure's complete destruction, saving the twin bell towers, rose windows, organ and priceless religious treasures, like the Crown of Thorns, which is believed to be worn by Jesus Christ on the cross.
This week, France paid day-long tribute to the firefighters, who battled the fast-moving blaze for nine hours, risking their lives. As a result, French President Emmanuel Macron said they will receive a medal for their courage and devotion. "We’ve seen before our eyes the right things perfectly organized in a few moments, with responsibility, courage, solidarity and a meticulous organization," said Macron, during a ceremony at Elsee Palace. "The worst has been avoided."
"We knew that the roof was burning, but we didn’t really know the intensity,’ said Myriam Chudzinski, one of the first firefighters to reach the roof. "It was from upstairs that you understood that it was really dramatic. It was very hot and we had to retreat, retreat. It was spreading quickly."
Authorities say the raging fire was dangerously close to completely destroying the cathedral. "We now know it all came down to 15-30 minutes," explained Laurent Nuñez, France's deputy interior minister. If the inferno spread, the 13-ton bells would have fallen, tearing the structure apart. Officials have closed off the area, citing "important risks" of collapse, as the building remains extremely fragile and dangerous.
"We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it," Macron said in a television address to the nation. "It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are."
Thanks to the generosity of France's wealthiest citizens, the fundraising effort has already reached €1 billion. That puts the project on track to meet Macron's five-year goal, and the monument's restoration may draw from an unusual source: The 2014 video game Assassin's Creed: Unity, which featured elaborate recreations of the city of Paris in 1789. Art director Caroline Miousse told The Verge that she spent "literally years fussing over the details" of Notre Dame cathedral.