How Catastrophic Is the Notre-Dame Cathedral Fire?

As the world watched in horror, Notre-Dame Cathedral erupted in flames on Wednesday evening in Paris, sending massive plumes of smoke rising from the Île de la Cité in the city’s medieval heart. Flames swiftly consumed the entire roof of the structure, and elements of the cathedral, including the central spire over the crossing where the transepts intersect the nave and chancel, collapsed into the blaze. One of the world’s greatest surviving works of Gothic architecture—a monument that had endured for more than 800 years—appeared to be in danger of complete destruction.

But it has survived: While the damage to the interior of the historic building is incalculable, the fire did not totally consume Notre-Dame itself, according to reported that the artworks and holy sacraments of Notre-Dame were all rescued safely. No injuries were reported, either among civilians or firefighters or other emergency responders. But the world may have lost some of its most beautiful stained glass windows, and it could be some time before Notre-Dame’s bells ring out over the city again.

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