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Repairs begin on Notre Dame Cathedral

Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 19, 2019
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Massive plumes of yellow-brown smoke fill the air above Notre Dame Cathedral during a fire on Monday, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo)

PARIS – More than $1 billion has been pledged so far to repair Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire earlier this week.

Thursday night forensics investigators were finally able to get inside the cathedral. They’ve also interviewed some of the construction teams working at the time of the fire and believe an electrical short circuit likely caused the fire, but are still looking for the exact cause.

Some experts have suggested it could take up to 15 years to rebuild Notre Dame, but President Emmanuel Macron has said he would like it done in five years, when Paris hosts the 2024 Olympics.

Meanwhile, France’s Cultural Minister says priceless art inside Notre Dame Cathedral was not damaged and was safely rescued from the building. He also says those items were taken to a new location for their protection and that they are in almost-normal condition. He calls it “excellent news” for the “integrity of all the artworks.”

The Diocese of Paris said the Crown of Thorns, a relic believed to be worn by Jesus, was spared in the fire and retrieved safely. A “human chain” of firefighters rescued other treasures, including the tunic of St. Louis.

Friday workers started reconstruction work inside the cathedral, with cranes delivering scaffolding materials. A representative from the Center for Research at the French Museums told reporters no fire, soot, or water reached inside cathedral walls.

The representative said the fire Monday was concentrated on the cathedral’s roof, which destroyed its famous spire. The vaulted ceiling is said to still be in “an emergency situation.”

Officials have to carefully remove debris weighing down the ceiling, cover it to protect against the elements, and dismantle the scaffolding that was on top of the cathedral when the fire started.

Many Easter weekend services planned to take place at Notre Dame were moved to the nearby Saint Sulpice church.