Workers rush to secure Notre Dame's weakened structure
Notre Dame fire: What we know
- A major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday.
- The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but officials do not suspect terrorism or arson.
- About 40 people have been questioned by investigators.
- So far, about a billion dollars have been pledged to help restore the landmark.
Construction workers hurriedly secured key sections of the fire-weakened Notre Dame Cathedral Thursday, including an area above one of its famed rose-shaped windows. Fire officials warned that the massive cathedral still remains very fragile and extremely dangerous for construction workers and other specialists.
Workers were using a crane to remove some statues to lessen the weight on the cathedral's fragile gables, or support walls, and to keep them from falling, since the section lacked the support of the massive timber roof that burned up in Monday evening's devastating blaze. They were also securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame's rose windows with wooden planks.
The island in the Seine River housing Notre Dame at the heart of the French capital remained largely empty Thursday and closed to everyone but residents. Businesses were shuttered and the usual tourist throngs were nowhere to be seen.
The lack of tourists was a significant concern for neighborhood merchants. A large swath of the Ile de la Cite is currently inaccessible, with numerous bridges linking it with mainland Paris closed.
Temporary wooden cathedral proposed
The rector of Notre Dame, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, said he wanted a temporary wooden structure to be built to serve as the rectory as Notre Dame is being rebuilt, BBC News reports.
"We mustn't say 'the cathedral is closed for five years and that's it'," Chauvet said.
Chauvet called for an "ephemeral cathedral" in front of Notre Dame.
The wooden structure, Chauvet said, should be "beautiful, symbolic and attractive."
Short-circuit most likely caused fire, official tells AP
A French judicial police official told the Associated Press investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire. The official, who spoke anonymously about the ongoing investigation, said investigators still don't have the green light to work in the cathedral and search in the rubble for safety reasons.
Dozens investigating cause of massive Notre Dame fire
About 50 investigators are involved with the probe, and some 40 people, including those involved in the cathedral's restoration work before the fire, had been questioned by Thursday, according the Paris prosecutor's office.
French newspaper Le Parisien reported that a fire alarm went off at Notre Dame shortly after 6 p.m. Monday but a computer bug showed the fire's location in the wrong place. The paper reported the flames may have started at the bottom of the cathedral's giant spire and may have been caused by an electrical problem in an elevator.
Officials had said a fire alarm was triggered at 6:20 p.m., but no fire was discovered. Then, at 6:43 p.m., another alarm sounded.
At that point, fire spread quickly from the roof near the rear of Notre Dame. In less than an hour, it engulfed the spire, which -- just 13 minutes later -- collapsed as onlookers watched in horror.
Man arrested at U.S. cathedral with gas cans, lighters
In the U.S., a New Jersey man was charged with attempted arson Thursday after trying to enter the historic St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York carrying gas cans and lighters. Police said Marc Lamparello, 37, parked his minivan outside the historic cathedral just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, CBS News correspondent Mola Lenghi reports.
Lamparello then tried entering the building carrying four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and two butane lighters. He was quickly stopped by security inside and turned away -- but not before police said he spilled gasoline on the floor.
Counterterrorism police outside followed him back to his car, where he told them he was just cutting through the cathedral and that his car was out of gas. Police found that wasn't the case and took him into custody.
Chaplain says many people saved crown of thorns
Several hundred Paris firefighters, who are members of the French military, filed into the presidential Elysee Palace courtyard Thursday where President Emmanuel Macron expressed his gratitude for their work. Among the firefighters honored was fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who said he was falsely credited with helping salvage the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion.
The chaplain said a team of rescuers broke the relic's protective covering and an official who had the secret code to unlock the protection finished the job. Fournier told France Info on Thursday that his own team arrived on the heels of the salvaging and praised the action "to preserve this extraordinary relic, this patrimony of humanity."
However, Fournier told Le Parisian that he was able to save the most precious thing for Catholics from the fire, the cathedral's consecrated hosts. The paper said he climbed on altars to remove large paintings, but that he felt especially proud "to have removed Jesus" from the cathedral.
For Catholics, consecrated hosts are the body of Christ.
Photos show damage to Notre Dame
Notre Dame stands damaged but defiant after the fire that raged for at least 12 hours. Inside, where the spire collapsed, the altar was buried in debris, but its cross was almost shining, and pews were still in place, CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi reports.
Paris' City Hall released pictures of the inside of the 850-year-old church Wednesday, showing the soot-filled sanctuary covered in debris. The roof, with its 800-year-old wooden beams, is gone.
Light shined through gaping holes in the intricately carved vaulted ceiling. Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of the preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told the AP that the roof's wooden beams cannot be remade because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century."
Even though the flames swept over the cathedral so intensely, much of the interior was saved, CBS News correspondent Ian Lee reports. Notre Dame's two medieval bell towers were still intact, and its stained-glass rose windows appeared mostly unscathed.
Officials said it will be at least another day before scaffolding from the earlier restoration work is stabilized so the rubble can start to be cleared away.
"She was so beautiful, and now the sky is sad"
Bells tolled at cathedrals across the French capital Wednesday exactly 48 hours after the fire began. Cecile Deleville can hardly look at the destruction -- she has worshipped there for 44 years.
"She was so beautiful, and now the sky is sad," she said. "This is such a shock to me."
Notre Dame was undergoing major renovations
The fire may potentially involve renovation work that was being carried out at the cathedral, Paris' fire service said. Extensive scaffolding covered a portion of the roof as part of the $6.8 million project before the fire broke out.
Hundreds of millions raised for restoration
Deep-pocketed wine lovers in London raised nearly a million dollars Wednesday morning for the rebuilding of Notre Dame. Sotheby's auctioned off 25 five-bottle cases from one of the world's most prestigious wine producers, Château Mouton Rothschild.
The sales were originally meant to raise money for the restoration of the Palace of Versailles, France's opulent former royal residence. About a billion dollars have been promised to help restore Notre Dame.
Scammers targeting Notre Dame donors
Global scam artists are already preying on donors. Security experts and nonprofits alike are issuing warnings for crooks seeking to capitalize on the fire.
"These kinds of scams are proliferating globally," Alan Brill, a cyber risk expert at Kroll, a global consulting firm, told CBS' MoneyWatch. "And the thing that's so depressing is the scammers are so good at taking advantage of tragedy that they have a playbook."
The French Ministry of Culture has identified four reputable organizations that have launched fundraisers for the cathedral's reconstruction, including la Fondation du Patrimoine, la Fondation de France, la Fondation Notre-Dame, and le Centre des monuments nationaux.
American finds man and little girl in viral photo
A moment of bliss captured on camera about an hour before Notre Dame caught fire triggered an international search that ended Thursday. The photo by Brooke Windsor, an American tourist, showed an unidentified man twirling a little girl in front of the medieval landmark.
The photo went viral after Windsor shared it on Twitter. She also made a plea to find the two people, thought to be a father and daughter.
The tweet was shared hundreds of thousands of times, and Windsor announced on Twitter Thursday that the search was over. She said the man wanted to remain anonymous and he told her he would find "a special place" for the picture.
Bookstore owners urge "Hunchback of Notre-Dame" publishers to donate
Two bookstore owners are calling on publishers of Victor Hugo's iconic book "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" to join the funding campaign, according to BBC News.
BBC News said Amandine Ardouin and Antoine Bonnet, whose bookshops are based in Paris, are asking other sellers and publishers to do their part.
A share of their income from sales of Hugo's novel, first published in 1831, will be pledged to the restoration project, they told French media.
Notre Dame Cathedral's history
Construction of Notre Dame began in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a worldwide Parisian icon and the location of some of the most important moments in the history of France.
Henry VI of England was crowned inside the cathedral in 1431 and Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor of France inside the cathedral in 1804.
The cathedral receives nearly 13 million visitors a year and is home to exquisite religious artifacts, paintings, sculptures and other priceless works of art.
It had been undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable. CBS News' Roxana Saberi reported in March 2018 that years of rain, snow and pollution had eroded the flying buttresses that prop the cathedral up.
James Shepherd, director of preservation and facilities at the Washington National Cathedral, spoke with CBSN on Monday about Notre Dame's epic history.
"That's 800 years of history, of people pilgrimaging there and worshiping there, and the accumulation of culture," Shepherd said by phone. "All of that will have to be taken into consideration as they try to repair this church and save it after this devastating fire."
Shepherd spoke of Notre Dame's "stunning and exclusive stained-glass windows," which the cathedral's heritage director said Tuesday don't appear to have been destroyed in the fire. Shepherd called them "absolutely priceless and some of the best examples of European stained-glass windows."