The iconic Paris landmark remains very “fragile” and might not be entirely saved, the rector of the Notre Dame Cathedral has said, adding that there’s a “50 percent chance” the still not removed scaffolding might collapse onto it.
Notre Dame, which was badly damaged by a devastating blaze this April, missed Christmas celebrations for the first time in over 200 years since the French Revolution.
Skipping one of the most important Christian holidays is surely a “heartache,” but the danger that persists over the church is even more worrisome, the rector of the Cathedral Monsignor Patrick Chauvet has said.
“It is not out of danger,” Chauvet told AP while attending Christmas Eve midnight Mass in a nearby church. “It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.”
Today we can say that there is maybe a 50 percent chance that it will be saved. There is also a 50 percent chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see the building is still very fragile.
The inferno broke out at the cathedral on April 15, when it was covered with metal scaffolding required for restoration works. Notre Dame’s roof and spire were completely burned out, yet its vaults remained largely intact, preventing the complete destruction of its interior.
The partially melted and bent scaffolding survived the blaze as well – and nine months later it appears to be a potential threat for the monument. Ahead of the restoration works – that are expected to begin in 2021 – the pile of bent metal must be removed.
“Once the scaffolding is removed we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the quantity of stones to be removed and replaced,” Chauvet said.
It will take another three years afterwards to make the cathedral safe enough for people to enter, the rector estimated, yet the complete restoration will likely take even longer. French President Emmanuel Macron, for his part, had said earlier that he would like to see the cathedral restored by 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympics – yet the architecture experts expressed doubts such a goal is entirely realistic.
It remains unclear what exactly caused the devastating blaze – the authorities have ruled out arson and believe the fire was accidental. A short-circuit in the cathedral’s bell-ringing system as well as cigarette butts, left by the construction workers, have been named as possible explanations forthe fire, yet the actual cause has not been established yet.