From the front, the old lady of 855 years looks intact with its ocher facade and gargoyles that receive the first drops of rain in the morning. But inside, the wind tickles the bowels. After a night of battle, the fire that ignited Notre-Dame cathedral through the roofs was mastered. Two-thirds of the nineteenth-century carpentrye century on one side and the XIIIe on the other are ravaged. A gaping hole marks the spot where the arrow was unhooked. If the "treasure" of Our Lady – the Holy Crown, the tunic of St. Louis, a piece of the Cross and a nail of the Passion – could be evacuated and placed in a safe place, firefighters advance still carefully. "The fire crews and the architects who are on site are worried because above the arch, there is still water, there is carbonized wood waterlogged and therefore very weighty. important", detailed on Tuesday, on France Inter, the Minister of Culture, Franck Riester. He is at risk of collapse.
Fifty police officers of the criminal brigade are currently mobilized on the investigation, but await the green light of the authorities to enter the cathedral and make the first findings. Entire parts of the building, heavily damaged by the fire, threaten to give way. Flames formed by molten metal also fall on the choir. On Monday evening, the Paris Public Prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation, entrusted to the Regional Directorate of the Judicial Police, for "Involuntary destruction by fire". On Tuesday, at noon, the prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, accompanied by Christian Sainte, patron of the Parisian PJ, gave a first press briefing on the conduct of investigations. "They will be long and complex, warned the magistrate, confirming "At this point, nothing is going in the direction of a voluntary gesture." Several people involved in the renovation project are also heard by the police.
400 firefighters and 50 investigators deployed
The first flames began to climb in the azure blue sky on Monday at 6:50 pm, and soon more than 400 firefighters deployed on site. At this point, the desert court is surrounded by red trucks while large pipes wind their way through the surrounding streets. Looking at the huge mass of greenish smoke that escapes from the roof, a police officer closing the security perimeter murmurs: "It hurts my heart." On nacelles that seem derisory in front of the imposing building, firefighters bombard the water facade. Moving show of these small silhouettes that stand on the roof, circulating along the blackened tip. Two hours later, the cathedral already coughs only a few volutes. However, nothing is won. A police drone flies over the building and reveals impressive images: the entire frame is on fire, Notre Dame is no longer a monument of embers. On the retransmission screen, placed in a white truck, appears an orange nave where we can see the scaffolding of the renovation site launched in 2018 and the black chasm where once stood the spire. Everyone remains a little dumbfounded by the tragic beauty of the glow, the old lady emblem of Paris being consumed. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, sighs, her throat tied while we brush a quick summary of the situation: "It's terrible, it's an extraordinary place, it's Victor Hugo, it's the poetry of Paris. For the moment, I do not have the words except to point out that firefighters are extraordinary. "
Suddenly, the fire starts again in a belfry at the level of the bells where large flames pierce again in the night. Before yielding under the lateral assaults of the jets of water. Teams zoom in on the screen to distinguish the situation more clearly. It is probably in the attic that the fire started, a place very difficult to access because it is surrounded by scaffolding. A former fire doctor who came to support his colleagues contemplates the disaster, standing on a wall: "It's really the whole frame that is on fire, it's very dangerous for the firefighters who intervene. The slightest collapse can cause injuries and the helmet will not be enough to protect them from rubble. " Our Lady flames in the night, under the eyes of firefighters who are organized around the trucks become checkpoint. "We'll have to work until the early morning to extinguish the embers", comments one of them. The action plan fits Veleda marker on a whiteboard. There are reproductions of the cathedral in three dimensions. Sensitive areas are marked in red and arrowed: "Danger collapse pinion."
Around 11 pm, the first victorious comment of General Jean-Claude Gallet, commander of the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP), at a short press point: "We can consider that the structure of Our Lady is saved and preserved in its entirety." Two hours later, Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus, the spokesman for the fire department, said there is only "Some residual foci" and that inside is an important device with "Laser means to monitor the stability of the building". In the early morning, there are only 1,000 square meters of roof in the embers state. It took more than nine hours of fighting to tame the flames.
Willy The Devin