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Notre Dame burns – updated

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David Berlinski, who lives down the street from Notre Dame, writes, “The pompiers were in their glory last night, and, when I was allowed to return home as dawn was breaking, they were still there, red-eyed, exhausted, grim. The police, too. The great cloud of smoke had drifted to the west and south. Later that day, I saw the front of the cathedral. Its towers were still standing, but its great bells, which I had heard every day, were silent.”

From Mark Steyn: “Twenty-four hours after Notre Dame de Paris began to burn, there is better news than we might have expected: More of the cathedral than appeared likely to has, in fact, survived intact – including the famous rose windows, among the most beautiful human creations I’ve ever seen.”

Mark Steyn sums up what it all really means:

Our Way Big Cool post-modern elite cannot keep the great achievements of their own civilization safe.

But—this is the part that concerns our Uncommon Descent readers more directly—as science falls more and more under the rule of the post-modern elite, expect similar, less dramatic – but just as significant – things.

Possibly, multi-mega-billion dollar projects that produce only modest rewards (son of Collider, anyone)? Disciplines wasted by identitarian politics, subtly encouraged from without and within, by essentially unqualified but approved people (medicine gets Woke, anyone?). Stay tuned. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, we fear.

More Mark.

Paris Vows To Rebuild Notre Dame Despite Cosmic Absurdity Of Seeking Inherent Meaning In Fleeting Creations Of Man (The Onion)

Dennis Prager (an observant Jew) writes, “I don’t know if a worker accident or a radical Muslim set fire to Notre Dame Cathedral (as they have scores of other churches around Europe). In terms of what the fire represented, it doesn’t much matter. What matters is the omen: Europe is burning, just as Notre Dame was.”

A horror:

Daily Mail bullet points:

Condolences to the people of France and to lovers of great art everywhere. END

Arson suspected. – News, 17:28 EST Arson ruled out pending investigation (updated EST 17:29 PM EDT)
Blaze linked to renovations.

Nothing will remain ““Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” 17:31 EDT

Background: The Spire of Notre Dame Tumbled Like a Spear Into the Heart of Something Timeless

Background: Why arson was suspected: Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months.

More than 10 churches have been hit since the beginning of February, with some set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged.

St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral, had the large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze March 17. (Crux)


Notre Dame (no surprise given its prominence) has been targeted in the recent past:

No surprise, the Cathedral has been targeted before: France jails ‘jihadist’ woman (22) accused over foiled terror attack in Paris
“ONE OF THREE women allegedly involved in a foiled plot in 2016 to blow up a car packed with gas canisters near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was today sentenced to eight years in prison by a French court for earlier offences.”

Current reported state of damage: The French leader credited the “courage” and “great professionalism” of firefighters with sparing Notre Dame’s facade and two landmark towers from being destroyed.

From Popular Mechanics: “Notre Dame has been threatened with collapse before. A New York Times report in 2017 stated that “experts say Notre-Dame, although not at risk of sudden collapse, has reached a tipping point — and an expensive one at that” and reported a $180 million price for appropriate repairs. Much of that money has gone to renovations come from American donors in love with French culture and how the cathedral embodied the nation.”


A firefighter’s view of why these buildings are hard to save.

Works of art feared lost have been saved (scroll down)

Live stream:

A week ago, Notre Dame statues were airborne.

17 Replies to “Notre Dame burns – updated

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Notre Dame burns

  2. 2
    Brother Brian says:

    KF, I know that we often disagree, but this brought a tear to my eyes. My wife and I were there last year and were awed by the majesty of that structure. To think that it could survive the war to be destroyed in such a mundane fashion is beyond comprehension.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    I have never visited the cathedral, but the stained glass windows (even in photographs) were breathtaking.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Structure saved from total destruction, one fire fighter seriously injured.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    Sky News: the rose windows were blown out by the heat. Worse, they speak of a fire fighter “gravely injured.” Prayers. KF

  6. 6
    daveS says:

    There’s a note above saying “arson suspected”. Is this true?

  7. 7
    News says:

    Dave, yes, arson was suspected, currently not suspected prior to investigation. But there have been a number of recent church fires in France, so it was a reasonable concern. We shall see.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, there’s text I don’t know about. Arson is always possible, more likely something just went wrong with renovation work high in the roof.If it was the proverbial oily rags bursting into flame, that would be just awful. Grinder wheel sparks hitting a bad spot, who knows. 850 year old timbers. The odd smoke colours are suggestive, likely fire retardants were there in the timbers but there’s only so much one can do. Sad. I hope the fire fighter makes it. KF

  9. 9
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  11. 11
    daveS says:

    Thread on this topic at Hacker News:

    The top comment is by a person who inspected the spire recently, the first such inspection since 1933. Interesting photos included.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    I was a little surprised to hear on the radio that the cathedral was strapped for cash. I would have thought such a national treasure would have been better funded. Either way, it’s a terrible blow.

  13. 13
    AaronS1978 says:

    I was watching it this morning it was sickening to see it burn, it was very depressing to see something like that burn down

  14. 14
    Ed George says:

    Sadly I have never been to the cathedral. I have a flight booked to Paris for later this summer and now I will miss one of that city’s treasures. Even if they rebuild, it will never be the same.

  15. 15
    Bob O'H says:

    Ed – I think even the burnt-out hulk will be impressive. That style of cathedral tends to sit there unmoveable. And it will be repaired – York Minster suffered a large fire in 1984, and was repaired within a few years. I’ve seen a few photos on twitter this morning: the bulk of the cathedral looks OK, and the rose window is still intact, but probably rather sooty.

    The UK news is saying that the Paris prosecutor’s office is treating it as an accident, related to the renovation works.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    The fate of the three grand rose windows is unclear: but, there is hope. Notre Dame is an embodiment of the principle that beauty is valuable and inspiring, and its damage impoverishes us all. It is ironic to me that I recently chose the South Rose Window — about 40 ft diameter! — as an example of beauty in the just linked discussion. KF

  17. 17
    Brother Brian says:

    The latest I heard was that the Rose windows survived.

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