Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Picture: AFP
Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Picture: AFP

Alarm went off ‘23 minutes’ before blaze found

As the world continues to mourn the devastation wreaked at Notre Dame, it has been revealed that an alarm went off 23 minutes before the fire was found.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz revealed that the first alarm went off at 6.20pm local time (2.20am AEST) on Monday.

But the fire was not discovered until a second alarm went off at 6.43pm, raising questions about whether the landmark could have been saved.

 

It has been revealed that an alarm went off 23 minutes before the fire was found. Picture: AP
It has been revealed that an alarm went off 23 minutes before the fire was found. Picture: AP

"The investigation is going to be long and complex," he said. "We are in the process of interviewing witnesses."

There were at least five companies working in the cathedral's roof on restoration works, who are likely to be quizzed.

The blaze was reportedly started in the roof, based on the damage.

More than 600 million euros has already been pledged to save restore the building.

But building experts warned it would take at least 15 years to restore the cathedral to its former glory.

CONSTRUCTION BOSS 'BOASTED' ABOUT FIRM'S RECORD

The 32-year-old construction boss whose firm was renovating Notre Dame before the blaze broke out had previously spoken boasted about his company's ability to protect historic sites.

According to the Daily Mail, Julien Le Bras said in 2018: "Our first thought is to protect the values of historical buildings, it's in our DNA."

SIGNIFICANCE: Why the world is mourning Notre-Dame

MINUTE BY MINUTE: How the Notre Dame inferno took hold

 

The 32-year-old Julien Le Bras headed up the construction company that was renovating Notre Dame. Picture: Facebook
The 32-year-old Julien Le Bras headed up the construction company that was renovating Notre Dame. Picture: Facebook

 

His small firm, Le Bras Freres - known as the "Cathedral Restorers", had won the $A9 million contract to repair the famed church's spire.

Investigators were said to be questioning employees from the company over the devastating fire, which caused such significant damage that experts believe it could take decades to repair.

MACRON'S NOTRE DAME PLEDGE

Emmanuel Macron had pledged to the world that Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt within five years.

"We will rebuild the cathedral even more beautifully and I want it to be finished within five years," Mr Macron said in a televised address to the nation a day after the blaze. "And we can do it."

But he also warned: "Let us not fall into the trap of haste."

Mr Macron said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country that has been riven with divisions.

"What we saw last night in Paris was our capacity to mobilise and to unite," the 41-year-old leader said in the solemn address from his office in the presidential palace.

France had over the course of its history seen many towns, ports and churches go up in flames, he said.

"Each time we rebuilt them," he said, adding that the cathedral inferno had shown that "our history never stops and that we will always have trials to overcome."

WHAT WAS SAVED

Photos from inside Notre Dame show the central part of the historic Gothic cathedral is still intact, including three "irreplaceable" rose windows and the iconic golden cross.

Rows of wooden pews and much of the nave appears to have been saved, according to the images.

"Only a small part of the vault collapsed. Interior seems relatively untouched. Hallelujah!" wrote @CathedralNotre.

Still, a massive hole can be seen in the 850-year-old cathedral's roof. The pictures also show smoke emanating from the chancel, the area around the altar.

CNN reported the Archbishop of Paris as saying that the rose windows had been saved, as well as the cathedral's organ and the crown of thrones, which some believe Jesus wore during his crucifixion.

HERO PRIEST OF NOTRE DAME

A hero priest who helped comfort those wounded in the 2015 Paris terror attack risked his life by running into the Notre Dame blaze to rescue Jesus Christ's Crown of Thorns.

Jean-Marc Fournier, Chaplain of the Paris Firefighters, said he had been among those to enter Paris' 850-year-old cathedral as it was consumed by flames.

He also saved the Blessed Sacrament as emergency services formed a "human chain" to pull other historic relics from the burning structure, which was finally extinguished after eight hours.

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".

Father Fournier rushed inside the Bataclan music venue in Paris on November 13, 2015, when ISIS murdered 89 people using guns and explosives.

The modest chaplain prayed over the dead, and comforted those who were injured or had lost loved ones.

"I gave collective absolution, as the Catholic Church authorises me," Father Fournier said at the time.

BILLIONAIRES HELP REBUILDING EFFORT

French interior minister Christophe Castaner said there are still some risks that may endanger the structure of Notre Dame cathedral.

Castaner told reporters after a brief visit to the cathedral that it is "under permanent surveillance because it can still budge."

He added that state employees will need to wait 48 hours before being able to safely enter the cathedral and take care of the art works that are still there. Some were too big to be transferred.

Flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Picture: AP
Flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Picture: AP

Mr Castaner said: "We will be standing at (Notre Dame's) bedside."

France's richest man Bernard Arnault has pledged 200 million euros ($A315 million) towards restoring Notre Dame, while Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, has offered 100 million euros ($A157 million), and oil and gas giant Total donated 100 million euros as well.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II SENDS MESSAGE

Queen Elizabeth II says she is “deeply saddened” by the Notre Dame fire.  Picture:  Getty
Queen Elizabeth II says she is “deeply saddened” by the Notre Dame fire. Picture: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II has also sent her condolences.

"Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral," she said. "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," she said.

'NO ARSON'

Officials said the fire was started "involuntarily" and likely not the result of any criminal activity.

Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said there isn't any evidence of arson and that investigators do not believe it was started on purpose.

The cause of the fire still remains unclear, though it could be linked to a $6.8 million renovation effort on the church's spire.

US President Donald Trump has relayed Americans' "condolences" to Mr Macron over the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral, the White House said.

"We stand with France today and offer our assistance in the rehabilitation of this irreplaceable symbol of Western civilisation. Vive la France!" Mr Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The statement called France the oldest US ally and said "we remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame's bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil. Those bells will sound again."

THOUSANDS MOURN NOTRE DAME

The smell of smoke still hung in the air as hundreds gathered along the river Seine to mourn the devastation at the Notre Dame cathedral.

Crowds of people watched in shock yesterday as the spire of the 850-year-old building crumbled and the roof caved in with some singing hymns as they watched the building burn.

Former Australian man, Phillip Taft and his wife Mara Connolly-Taft travel to Paris frequently from their home in New York and said the loss was a blow to the city.

"Here's my new feeling. Last night, devastation. Today, relief that apparently it was the roof but the fundamental structures were okay," he said while preparing to visit a nearby chapel.

"I think we both had a sense of relief about that."

The couple were happy with fundraising efforts so far to restore the building and hoped Australia and America would pitch in.

"Our hearts are broken, but they're healing slowly," Mr Taft said.

The cathedral remained a tourist attraction yesterday but now for the wrong reason with crowds swarming the nearby footpath to take photos and videos of the fire's aftermath, which ripped through two thirds of the historic church.

Police were in place to guide foot and road traffic as TV crews interviewed passers-by about what the loss meant to them.

Tours continued with guides heard telling their groups of the building's former glory, adding to their scripts the story of the historic night that changed Paris' skyline.

 

All roads were closed around the site and trains are not stopping at the nearby Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame train station.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the cathedral which was undergoing extensive renovations before tragedy struck.

"Notre-Dame is out history, our literature. It is the epicentre of our life, it is the gold standard," Macron said.

 

 

"It is so many books, paintings. It is the cathedral of all the French people even those who have never visited.

"We will put out an appeal for the greatest talents and we will rebuild Notre-Dame because that is what the French people expect, because that is what our history deserves, because that is our profound destiny."

Fundraisers have begun across the globe including by the The New York-based French Heritage Society.

Elizabeth Stribling, Chair of the organisation said Notre Dame was "more than a religious symbol."

"It speaks of human achievements and great art. Although it's located in France, it is part of great world art that informs our culture and heritage. We must all spring to action," she said.

This picture shows charred debris inside Notre Dame cathedral. Picture: AP
This picture shows charred debris inside Notre Dame cathedral. Picture: AP

 

 

Flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.  Picture:  AP
Flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Picture: AP


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