Julien Le Bras (pictured), whose firm was renovating Notre Dame’s spire, declared last year that ‘our first thought is to protect the values of historical buildings’
A young construction boss boasted about his firm’s ability to protect historic sites when the company won a contract to repair the spire of Notre Dame, MailOnline can reveal.
Julien Le Bras, 32, declared last year: ‘Our first thought is to protect the values of historical buildings, it’s in our DNA.’
His firm, Le Bras Freres, a small company known as the ‘Cathedral Restorers’, had won the £5million (€5.8m, $6.5m) contract to renovate the spire of the Paris landmark.
Today craftsmen from the company were being questioned by investigators after the spire came crashing down in Monday’s blaze, which caused such extensive damage that experts believe it could take decades to repair.
Investigators believe the devastating blaze started in the roof cavity below the spire where the work, which included the use of electric tools, was being carried out.
The blaze was discovered at around 6.50pm but workers would reportedly have downed tools between 5pm and 5.30pm.
According to investigators, an alarm went off at 6.20pm, interrupting a Mass, but no fire was found. The alarm then sounded again at 6.43pm, by which time the flames were burning out of control.
The first daylight pictures inside the wreckage today showed the roof destroyed, the 850-year-old church exposed to the elements and the floor covered in charred debris.
However the three ‘irreplaceable’ Rose Windows, which date to the 13th century and were last night feared to have melted or exploded, are all still intact.
Other treasures, including a crown of thorns reputed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion, were also rescued from the fire, which officials believe was started by accident.
The wreckage of Notre Dame is seen today with charred debris scattered across the floorafter falling 100ft from the roof
Unscathed: Two of the cathedral’s most treasured statues appear to have survived. The 14th century Virgin of Paris, right, and the 17th century Descent from the Cross, left
Devastation: A view from the upper balcony inside Notre Dame shows debris strewn across the floor after falling from the ceiling
In addition to the statues, ‘irreplaceable’ Rose Windows, which date to the 13th century and were last night feared to have melted or exploded, are all still believed to be intact.
Left: A before and after shot of the main altar. Right: A wider shot of the Church’s nave showing the destruction caused by the fire
A firefighter battles against the inferno last night. The blaze raged through the cathedral for more than 12 hours
Exposed to the elements: the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral is open to the sky today after Notre Dame’s wooden roof was destroyed by Monday night’s blaze
The moment Notre Dame’s spire began to collapse as distraught Parisians watching the catastrophe let out a collective cry of disbelief at seeing it fall on Monday evening
The wooden roof at Notre Dame (left) was completely burned away – as experts said it could not be replaced in the way it was built in the Middle Ages – while charred debris covered the floor (right) but the bell towers remained intact
Paris firefighters douse the flames of the burning Notre Dame cathedral – one of the landmarks of the city – as night falls on Monday
Notre Dame ‘could take decades to repair’
Declaring that the ‘worst has been avoided’, President Emmanuel Macron vowed yesterday: ‘We will rebuild Notre Dame together.’
But asked how long the restoration could take, Eric Fischer, head of the foundation in charge of restoring Strasbourg cathedral, said: ‘I’d say decades.’
Stephane Bern, a TV presenter famous for his programmes on medieval France, estimated the rebuilding would take ’10 to 20 years minimum’.
The restoration of Reims cathedral which was bombarded by German forces during World War I took decades, he said.
Emmanuel Macron (pictured) vowed to rebuild Notre Dame
The 55-year-old told French radio: ‘You know what hurts me the most? It’s the idea that I will not see it again in my lifetime.’
‘It will be rebuilt for future generations,’ he said.
But Jack Lang, who served as a hugely prominent culture minister under the presidency of Francois Mitterrand, called for a much quicker turnaround.
‘Since yesterday I’ve been hearing that it will take a decade. That’s a joke,’ an indignant Lang said.
Mr le Bras told reporters at the scene: ‘We want more than anyone for light to be shed on the origin of this drama.’
He said his company has 12 workers involved in the refurbishment, though none were on site at the time the blaze began on Monday evening.
He insisted that ‘all the security measures were respected’ and that ‘workers are participating in the investigation with no hesitation.’
Various officials have suggested the fire could have been linked to the renovation work. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the investigation was in its early stages.
The 32-year-old construction boss had previously heralded his firm’s ‘technical ability and competence’ and ‘pride’ in restoring historic buildings.
In a film posted online, Mr Le Bras said: ‘We are proud of our work on historic buildings. We have the technical ability and the competence for his work.
‘Our first thought is to protect the values of historical buildings, it’s in our DNA.’
In the video posted on the Le Bras Freres Facebook page on New Year’s Eve, the CEO says his firm is proud to have been chosen to work on buildings across France, including the Congress Palace in Metz and Notre Dame in Paris.
Filmed at the staff end-of-year party Le Bras said: ‘We are completely ready to start work in 2019 and we are very well motivated. The team is ready and we have the know-how.’
And on winning the Notre Dame contact he said: ‘The goal is to keep as many old items as possible and not to put the building at risk.’
Le Bras said he would ensure that Notre Dame’s famous spire – known in French as la fleche – would not be damaged during the renovation work.
He said: ‘The spire is 105m tall and there is no question that we will put any pressure on it with the scaffolding.’
The Notre Dame renovation work was estimated to cost a total of £130 million (€150 million, in an audit by the French Ministry of Culture in 2014. Restoring the famous La Fleche spire to its former beauty was estimated to cost £5 million (€6 million) alone.
Julien Le Bras (pictured with his partner Charlotte Sartelet) today insisted tha this firm ‘wants more than anyone for light to be shed on the origin’ of the fire at Notre Dame
A diagram showing which parts of the cathedral were damaged or destroyed by the fire and which are still intact
Firefighters are hoisted to the upper levels of Notre Dame cathedral to inspect the damage after yesterday’s horrific blaze. One of the Paris landmark’s stained-glass windows is seen still intact in the background
Wreckage: The first pictures inside the cathedral on Tuesday morning appear to show at least one of the rose stained-glass windows still intact (left), but debris is covering the floor. Pictured right: the window before the blaze
The catastrophic fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral (shown this morning) has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic ‘epicentre’ this morning as French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the treasured landmark
The hero who saved the Crown of Thorns: Fire brigade chaplain entered flaming Notre Dame to recover holy relic – three years after he bravely helped Bataclan terror victims
Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, saved the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns from the blazing Notre Dame cathedral
A French priest who helped comfort the wounded after the Bataclan terror attack today also emerged as a hero of the Notre Dame fire.
Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, saved the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns from the blazing cathedral on Monday night.
It was feared that both religious artefacts would be lost as flames engulfed the medieval building, but Father Fournier made sure they were taken to safety.
Etienne Loraillere, an editor for France’s KTO Catholic television network, said Father Fournier ‘went with the firefighters into Notre Dame Cathedral to save the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament’.
Established in 1954 by Louis Le Bras, the current CEO’s grandfather, Le Bras Freres, which is based in Jarny, Lorraine, in the east of France and employs 200 craftsmen, has been trusted to renovate some of France’s most historic buildings.
The firm won the contract to restore Notre Dame last year after successfully renovating nine other historic sites including cathedrals in Reims, Poitiers, Verdun, Strasbourg, Amiens and the Pantheon in Paris.
Restoration work on Notre Dame, which began in July 2018, was set to be carried out in several phases over 20 years.
The series of repairs and restorations included attention being paid to the 100m meter high spire and the 12 apostles that crown it, which were said to have a large number of cracks and fissures .
Experts found that the aging stonework of all of the flying buttresses were causing problems for the stability of the whole building and many pinnacles and gargoyles were in disrepair or had fallen.
Lead framework of the stained glass windows had also become weakened.
Work using electric tools had been going on in the roof, but the fire caused the iconic spire to collapse. It comprised 250 tonnes of lead and stood 315ft tall.
After winning the contract Le Bras said: ‘No one has touched it [Notre Dame] for 150 years, it’s a great honour to be doing the work.
‘We are not expecting our work to last ten years but we are aiming it to last for another 150 years!’ he joked.
The CEO explained to staff that the tender for the restoration work had been split into three – the scaffolding, the frame and the cover.
And he was ecstatic when the ‘small company from Jarny, eastern France, won against large international groups!’
He added: ‘This will be our tenth cathedral. This family business has worked on another high-profile buildings in Paris, the Pantheon.’
The firm boasts that it is proud to employ French workers and has refused to take on ‘low-cost’ staff from abroad.
Le Bras recently invested €5million in new machinery and work space at his headquarters in Jarny, in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, in the Lorraine region of eastern France.
The Paris prosecutor’s office is probing ‘involuntary destruction caused by fire’, indicating authorities are treating the blaze as a tragic accident and not arson or terrorism.
‘Nothing suggests that it was a voluntary act,’ Remy Heitz told reporters outside the Gothic cathedral, adding that the workers employed at the site were being questioned over Monday’s blaze.
Mr Heitz also revealed that an earlier alarm had gone off at 6.20pm, interrupting a Mass, but no fire was found. The alarm then sounded again at 6.43pm.
A timeline showing how the fire spread, engulfing and destroying the roof of the cathedral, before firefighters calmed it
An aerial view of Notre Dame after the spire and roof were burned away but the bell towers were saved from destruction
Firefighters work at the facade of Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday following the fire which destroyed the roof and spire
One of the upper windows appeared to have been burned out although a statue on top survived (left), as rescue workers were hoisted to the top of the cathedral today (right) as they investigate Monday’s devastating fire
A source close to the inquiry said that many of the restorers had been interviewed overnight, with prosecutors focusing on the equipment used at the 850-year-old cathedral, where light and power sources were limited.
In such circumstances, hordes of cables and wires would have to be attached to dozens of generators, which would then be hoisted high up on to medieval building.
France’s richest man Bernard Arnault pledges €200MILLION to repair Notre Dame – doubling the €100million donated by Salma Hayek’s billionaire husband
France’s richest man has pledged €200m (£170m) towards the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, doubling the donation of Salma Hayek’s husband.
Multi-billionaire Bernard Arnault, head of the LVMH luxury goods group, instantly became the biggest benefactor of an appeal launched by President Emmanuel Macron.
On Monday – the day of the blaze – French tycoon Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding of the Cathedral.
But, in a statement, the LVMH group said their donation would be double that.
It said: ‘The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.
A statement from Francois-Henri Pinault said: ‘This tragedy impacts all French people’ and ‘everyone wants to restore life as quickly as possible to this jewel of our heritage.’
‘The fear is that a small fire began in the rood where they were working,’ the source added. ‘The irony is that the restorers had just begun working on the spire which collapsed along with much of the roof.’
The firm had won the €5.7million contract to restore the Notre Dame spire, which was designed by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and erected in 1859.
They were due to be on site for up to four years along with Europe Scaffolding, another company which had just put 250 tons of scaffolding around Notre Dame, along with a lift that could move up and down the 300ft spire.
The blaze, which broke out as the last crowds of tourists ended visits at around 7pm, was finally declared to be ‘fully extinguished’ at about 9.45am this morning.
As the fire raged, brave rescue teams raced to recover what treasures they could from the Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and relics of huge religious and international significance.
Among them was the reputed Crown of Thorns, supposedly worn by Jesus during his crucifixion, which was carried to safety by a human chain of emergency service workers.
Today the Archbishop of Paris told BFM-TV that the three beautiful rose windows on the north, west and south sides of the church had all survived intact.
Fears had grown for the ‘really irreplaceable’ stained-glass windows, dating back to the 13th century, amid the heat of the fire last night.
The status of other relics, including a purported piece of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified, remained unclear today.
French priest Jean-Marc Fournier led the efforts to save the Crown of Thorns.
Etienne Loraillere, an editor for France’s KTO Catholic television network, said Father Fournier ‘went with the firefighters into Notre Dame Cathedral to save the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament’.
This was confirmed by an emergency services source who said: ‘Father Fournier is an absolute hero.
Rescued treasures: Rescued artefacts are pictured in storage in Paris after being saved by the blaze in Notre Dame
Collapse: A sequence image shows the spire of Notre Dame cathedral collapsing during the blaze last night
Photographs released by the Paris fire brigade show a close up view of crews battling the fire yesterday
Hundreds of firefighters battled to stop the fire wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade (pictured) after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of Parisians
Natalia Vodianova and Antoine Arnault, the CEO of Berluti, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following the fire
Natalia Vodianova outside the building. Antoine’s father, Bernard Arnault, has pledged 200 million euro (£173 million) towards the reconstruction of the cathedral.
‘He showed no fear at all as he made straight for the relics inside the Cathedral, and made sure they were saved. He deals with life and death every day, and shows no fear.’
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the cathedral, whatever the cost.
He said in a speech outside the church: ‘We will appeal to the greatest talents and we will rebuild Notre Dame because that’s what the French are waiting for, because that’s what our history deserves, because it’s our deepest destiny.’
Pope Francis said Tuesday he hoped everyone would pull together to rebuild the devastated cathedral following the massive fire.
‘I hope the Notre Dame cathedral may once again become, thanks to reconstruction work and the mobilization of all, a jewel in the heart of the city,’ Francis said in a statement issued by the Vatican.
Leaders from around the world offered their condolences to France. Among them was Queen Elizabeth II, who said: ‘Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral.
‘I extend my sincere admiration to the emergency services who have risked their lives to try to save this important national monument.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time.’
Notre Dame had previously the site of a terror scare in 2016 when a car carrying seven gas cylinders was found near the cathedral.
Three women were arrested over the alleged terror plot, although they were thought to have been targeting a Paris railway station rather than the cathedral itself.
Police have made clear today that they believe Monday night’s fire was an accident.
In Washington, Donald Trump tweeted: ‘So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent the best wishes of the Anglican church to people at the scene. ‘Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic Notre Dame fire – and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ,’ he said.
And British Prime Minister Theresa May added: ‘My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze.’
Firefighters at the scene of the fire this morning. The fire was officially declared as extinguished at about 9.45am local time
French police are understood to have launched a criminal enquiry after a ‘stray flame’ caused the landmark to become engulfed in fire last night, with heroic firefighters battling for eight hours to bring the blaze under control
The focus of prosecutors is currently on contractors Le Bras Freres (Le Bras Brothers), a company based in Jarny, north-eastern France, which had been working from scaffolding (pictured today) erected as part of the restoration project
Fears for the treasures of Notre Dame: Christ’s ‘crown of thorns’ is saved, but fragment of the Cross and nails ‘used to crucify Jesus’ are among countless ancient artefacts still unaccounted for
The fate of many of the Notre Dame’s treasures is still unknown after the huge fire which ripped through the 850-year-old cathedral on Monday.
Experts are today entering the wreckage of the Paris landmark to find which of the precious artworks and religious relics have been saved.
The mayor of Paris said that one of the most irreplaceable items – the crown of thorns reputed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion – was safe last night.
Firefighters, police, and churchmen risked their lives last night to carry priceless historical artefacts and religious relics away from the flames which engulfed Notre Dame.
Rescued: Some of the treasures and artworks of Notre Dame cathedral are sheltered in the Hotel de Ville in Paris after they were saved from Monday night’s devastating fire
One of the items is kept in a case after it was rescued from the burning Paris cathedral last night, amid a fire which destroyed the roof and spire of the medieval landmark
Safe: Crown of Thorns
One of the cathedral’s most precious objects, a relic purported to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross, was whisked away to a secure facility.
The chaplain of the Paris fire brigade had gone inside with the firefighters to save the crown.
Experts said the irreplaceable item had been kept in a ‘very safe place’.
Records of the Crown of Thorns existence begin in the sixth century AD, when it is believed to have been kept in Jerusalem by Christians.
During the Crusades in 1238, the Latin Emperor of Constantinople gave it to King Louis IX to win his support and try and preserve his crumbling empire.
Louis IX brought the crown back to France and was later made a saint.
Although the crown itself was saved, a small fragment of the crown had been kept in the spire and is therefore believed to have burned to ashes.
The ‘Crown of Thorns’ said to have been worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, pictured in Notre Dame cathedral, has been saved from Monday night’s blaze
Safe: North, West and South Rose Windows
The magnificent stained-glass artworks in the cathedral date back to the 13th century.
There were fears last night that they would melt or explode but the Archbishop of Paris told BFM-TV today that they were safe.
A French journalist at the scene last night said the north window appeared to be safe with no sign of broken glass although firefighters remained concerned.
Architecture professor Julio Bermudez said the stained glass windows were ‘really irreplaceable’.
This picture appeared to show the North Rose Window intact on Tuesday morning but the fate of the other stained-glass masterpieces was still unclear
Safe: Tunic of St Louis
A 13th-century linen tunic which is thought to have belonged to King Louis IX – canonised as St Louis – was also made safe, the mayor of Paris said.
In his 44-year reign Louis took part in the Crusades and established early principles of justice such as the presumption of innocence.
He was proclaimed a saint in 1297 – the only French monarch to receive the honour – and was responsible for acquiring the Crown of Thorns.
The tunic worn by Louis King Louis IX who took part in the crusades and ‘acquired’ the crown of thorns for France in the 13th-century
Safe: Statues airlifted from the roof
Renovation was already taking place at the cathedral – which may have been linked to the fire.
As part of that work, 16 copper statues were airlifted from near the now-destroyed spire just days before the blaze.
The green-grey statues, representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists, were apparently lowered by cranes from the site and taken away.
Some copper statues, including these sixteen statues which sat around the spire of the cathedral, 12 apostles and the four evangelists commissioned in the 1860s during the great restoration of the cathedral by Viollet-le-Duc, were removed in April for restoration
Unknown: True Cross and Holy Nails
Another of the cathedral’s relics is a purported piece of the True Cross – the very instrument on which Jesus was crucified in the first century AD.
The collection also includes a nail which is said to be from the cross.
It was unclear on Tuesday morning whether these had been saved along with the Crown of Thorns.
A reputed piece of the True Cross – the very instrument on which Jesus was crucified – is one of the relics in Notre Dame’s collection
Apparently safe: Descent from the Cross
This 1723 statue by Nicolas Coustou sits on the cathedral’s high altar. It shows Jesus being taken down from the cross after his crucifixion.
Initial pictures showed the cross still standing with part of the sculpture visible, although it was surrounded by smoke and debris.
The cross and statue on Notre Dame’s altar – sculpted by Nicolas Coustou in 1723 – were apparently intact after the blaze but surrounded by smoke and debris
Unknown: Thomas Aquinas, Fountain of Wisdom
A painting titled Saint Thomas Aquinas – Fountain of Wisdom – is believed to date from 1648.
It shows the Italian theologian, who heavily influenced Western philosophy, and was painted by Antoine Nicolas.
This 1648 painting of Thomas Aquinas is among the treasures in the Notre Dame cathedral
Apparently safe: Cathedral bells
Despite fire racing through Notre Dame’s roof, firefighters were able to prevent the blaze consuming the cathedral’s main structure, including its two bell towers.
The bells that have rung out at key moments in France’s history were thought to be safe.
Emmanuel, the largest bell, was lifted into the south tower in 1685 and weighs over 23 tonnes. Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo, was the cathedral’s bell-ringer.
The ten bells of Notre Dame are renowned across Europe and the first nine are named Marie, Gabriel, Anne-Genevieve, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoit-Joseph, Maurice, and Jean-Marie.
The two cathedral bell towers were still standing this morning with the fire extinguished, offering some hope to Parisians who feared the entire building would collapse
Apparently safe: Grand Organ
Paris’ deputy mayor said Notre Dame’s organ, one of the biggest and most famous in the world, remains intact after the fire.
The organ, which has its beginnings in 1401, was refurbished in 2013 when the cathedral celebrated its 850th birthday.
Each of the nearly 8,000 pipes, some of which date back to the 18th century, was individually cleaned and returned to its place while nine new, gargantuan bells replaced the 19th century ones.
The archbishop of Paris said on Tuesday that it may have been damaged but did not appear to have been destroyed.
The pipes of the cathedral’s Grand Organ – which were cleaned in 2013 – stand under one of the stained glass windows. It is unclear whether the organ was damaged in the fire
Unknown: The Visitation painting
Jean Jouvenet’s 1716 painting shows the Virgin Mary raising her head and arms towards Heaven, with her relative Elizabeth nearby.
It is on the western wall of the Saint-Guillaume chapel within the cathedral but its current status is unclear.
Jean Jouvenet’s 1716 painting shows the Virgin Mary raising her head and arms towards Heavan, with her relative Elizabeth nearby.
Unknown: Choir screen
An ornate division separates the congregation from where the clergy would be seated.
It features 14th-century sculptures by Pierre de Chelle, Jean Ravy and Jean Le Bouteiller.
Safe: Madonna and Child statue
The 14th-century, life-sized statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus is also known, like the cathedral itself, as Notre Dame or Our Lady.
It stands near the Descent from the Cross sculpture and could be seen in a picture on Tuesday apparently unharmed.
The statue is one of 37 images of the mother of Jesus in the Catholic cathedral.
A statue of the Virgin Mary holding an infant Jesus Christ, sculpted in the 14th century, is one of the treasures still not accounted for in Notre Dame
Unknown: The Mays paintings
A series of paintings made in the 17th and early 18th century, these artworks were offered to the cathedral in May every year.
They include images of the conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus and of the crucifixion of St Peter.
The Mays paintings includes this work by Saint Peter Curing the Sick By His Shadow (pictured) a scene from the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible
Apparently safe: Statue of St Denis
This sculpture begun in 1853 depicts St Denis, the patron saint of the city of Paris and a Christian martyr from the 3rd century AD.
The statue in Notre Dame shows him holding his severed head after he was executed, but its fate today is not yet known.
The Statue of St. Denis holding his head (center) and two angels (left and right) on the left door jamb of the Portal of the Virgin on the western facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral
Destroyed: Irreplaceable wooden roof
The cathedral’s wooden roof – built with beams made more than 800 years ago from ancient forests – was burned to ashes in the fire.
A French cultural heritage expert has said that France no longer has trees big enough to replace them.
He said the restoration work will have to use new technologies to rebuild the roof.
The wooden roof was destroyed in the smoke and flames of the 12th-century cathedral. Experts said France no longer had the trees to replace it in the same way
Destroyed: 19th-century spire
Parisians watched in horror last night as the spire burned and then collapsed in the intense heat of the blaze.
The 13th-century spire was dismantled during the French Revolution and later rebuilt in the 1860s.
The spire of the Notre Dame collapses last night. This one was created in the 19th century after the original medieval spire was destroyed during the French Revolution
Destroyed: Relics of St Denis and St Genevieve
Relics of St Denis – the patron saint of Paris – and the fifth-century St Genevieve were also in the spire which burned and collapsed yesterday.
They were reportedly placed there by an archbishop in 1935.
Unknown: Statue of St Therese
The southern transept of Notre Dame contains a statue, made in 1934, of St Therese of the Child Jesus.
The French nun – also known as the Little Flower of Jesus – lived in the 19th century and was described by Pope Pius X as ‘the greatest saint of modern times’.
French policemen and church officials battle to save the treasure of Notre Dame last night
How the Notre Dame fire unfolded: Sequence of photographs show how a ‘stray flame’ became an inferno before brave firefighters extinguished the fire
A dramatic sequence of photographs reveals how a ‘stray flame’ eventually turned into a towering inferno that engulfed Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral overnight.
Heroic firefighters battled for more than eight hours through the night to extinguish the fire and save the 850-year-old landmark from complete destruction.
Pictutaken by horrified Parisians reveal how the first plumes of smoke developed over the skyline at about 6.50pm local time, with parts of the iconic spire collapsing just over an hour later.
First responders would spend the next couple of hours trying to salvage as many artworks and other priceless pieces as they could from inside the building, before its wooden roof fell in at about 10pm.
It would not be until 9.45am the next day, after firefighters had worked overnight to cool down the structure, that authorities would confirm that the blaze had been fully extinguished.
Below is a timeline setting out how the fire first took hold of the majestic building.
6.50pm (local time): A photograph posted on Twitter shows the moment that the first plumes of smoke became visible above the roof of the cathedral
7.20pm: Massive crowds have gathered near the cathedral as the plumes swelled in size and could be seen from miles around
7.30pm: A photograph on Twitter reveals the first amber licks of flame rising up from the base of the spire, where restoration works were being carried out
7.35pm: Another photograph shows the flames as they begin to creep up and eat away at the spire that dominates the skyline in this part of Paris
7.40pm: The flames appear to jump from the base of the spire to a nearby turret an hour or so after the fire first broke out
7.45pm: Just five minutes after catching alight, the roof of the turret appears to be disintegrating before the crowds of concerned bystanders
8pm: The turret falls through slightly before 8pm, leaving behind a few timber beams. Shown right, nothing remains of the turret by 8.10pm
8.10pm: The spire collapses after the flames had eaten their way along the length of the structure. Dramatic pictures showed the spire falling to earth after being split in half by the blaze
8.15pm: The main shard of the spire is shown hurtling towards the ground (left) , while seconds later the Paris landscape is changed forever (right)
8.20pm: Shortly before the sun sets, the flames spread to the cathedral’s wooden roof, which stands for less than an hour according to reports from the ground
8.20pm: Smoke pours from the two towers of the cathedral’s iconic facade, as the fire spreads from the spire to the entire wooden roof
8.20pm: A brave firefighter uses a hose to try and dampen down the raging flames as they engulf the roof of the cathedral
8.30pm: Footage captured from a drone operated by the Ministry of the Interior shows how nearly all of the wooden roof has been destroyed, leaving behind the stonework
8.30pm: An aerial view of the cathedral roof still on fire as the sun goes down over Paris, about an hour and a half after the first reports of a fire
8.45pm: A haunting photograph shows one of the cathedral’s stained glass window lit up by a blanket of flame inside
8.50pm: Another photograph from the ground outside the cathedral shows flickers of fire drifting into the sky above Paris
9pm: Sparks fill the air as Paris Fire brigade members spray water to extinguish flames as the Notre Dame Cathedral burns
9.20pm: French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron arrive at the scene to pay a visit to firemen battling the blaze
10pm: Drone footage released by French police shows the devastating damage done to the roof of the cathedral
10.30pm: Parisians gather to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame
11pm: People who live nearby are evacuated in case of a collapse. The Paris fire chief says the structure has been saved and the fire was stopped from spreading to the northern belfry
12am: It is confirmed that the relic of the crown of thorns and a number of priceless artefacts were taken from the cathedral to Paris City Hall for safekeeping
5.30am: The morning after the disaster, with fire crews still on the scene having worked overnight to cool down the structure
7am: Firefighters continue to douse Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with water this morning following the devastating blaze
8am: Firefighters, surrounded by the cathedral’s iconic gargoyles, take stock of the damage caused by yesterday’s devastating fire
9am: A woman sits and prays near the Notre Dame Cathedral this morning as efforts to dampen down the remainder of the flames continue today
10am: Pictures from inside show how the wooden roof at Notre Dame (left) was completely burned away – as experts said it could not be replaced in the way it was built in the Middle Ages – while charred debris covered the floor (right)
12pm: Firefighters work at the facade of Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday following the fire which destroyed the roof and spire