Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

By Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Rob Picheta, Euan McKirdy, Jessie Yeung, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Paul P. Murphy, CNN

Updated 11:23 a.m. ET, April 17, 2019
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1:17 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

There are no trees in France that are big enough to rebuild Notre Dame's roof

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

Trees used to make the wood frame were likely 300 or 400 years old.
Trees used to make the wood frame were likely 300 or 400 years old. From Notre Dame De Paris/Maurice de Sully association

There are not any trees in France that are large enough to replace the ancient Beachwood beams that burned in the Notre Dame fire, Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of the French Heritage Foundation (Fondation du Patrimoine), told CNN.

“The roof was made of beechwood beams over 800 years ago. There are no longer trees of that size in France,” he said. 

Asked if any trees in Europe were big enough for the beams and could be imported to Paris, he said, “I don’t know.”

11:44 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

See the charred inside of Notre Dame Cathedral

Remarkable photos and video show the scale of the damage inside the iconic 850-year-old Gothic cathedral in Paris, which was partially destroyed in a fire.


11:44 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Conspiracies about the Notre Dame fire are making rounds on the internet

From CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore

Even before the blaze at Notre Dame was extinguished, conspiracy theories and fake news about the fire had ricocheted around the internet.

The most egregious examples of disinformation originated in the darker corners of the internet, but many found bigger audiences on social media.

And big social media companies appeared to struggle to contain the spread of the content.

Here are some of those conspiracy theories:

  • One prominent conspiracy theory revolved around the claim that the fire had been deliberately started. InfoWars, a fringe website which is known for spreading conspiracy theories, published a story which suggested the fire had been intentionally set.The claim was based on a single erroneous tweet, which was later deleted. The InfoWars story remains online. 
  • On Twitter, a fake account made to look like one operated by CNN claimed the fire was caused by terrorism. The account, which was created in April, was only removed several hours after CNN publicly called out Twitter over it.
  • One strategy appeared to be the use of old and unrelated articles about Catholic churches being desecrated in France to insinuate that the Notre Dame fire was an intentional act.

What we know: Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz said that while the cause of the fire has not been established, it was likely "accidental." "Nothing shows that it's an intentional act" he said in a press conference on Tuesday

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan contributed to this report.

11:44 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Donations for the reconstruction of Notre Dame top $700 million

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau and Chris Liakos in London


The total amount of donations by French business leaders and businesses for the reconstruction of Notre Dame confirmed by CNN so far has topped $700 million.

The latest donations of $28 million come from French billionaires Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Martin and Olivier Bouygues and the Crédit Agricole — Pays de France Foundation.

In a statement, French bank Crédit Agricole said it was "sharing the collective emotion caused by the damage to this jewel of our heritage."

11:34 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

London's Westminster Abbey bells to ring tonight in solidarity with French


The bells on Westminster Abbey in London will ring out at 5:43 p.m. local time to mark the moment the Notre Dame fire began, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said.

She said the move would “underline our solidarity with France and her people."

“And later this week, on Maundy Thursday, bells will ring at cathedrals and churches across England,” May said.

May said experts from Historic England will coordinate with their colleagues across the area to make an offer of support once the full extent of the damage has been assessed.

“Notre-Dame is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world — a symbol of France and the French people, and cherished across the globe. The images of destruction we saw last night were truly heart-rending,” she said.

She continued: “When it comes to the task of rebuilding, French craftsmen and women are among the finest in the world. As they prepare to embark on this daunting task, we stand ready to offer any UK experience and expertise that could be helpful in the work that lies ahead to restore this magnificent cathedral.”

10:39 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Teams still surveying structural risk at Notre Dame

Workers will attempt to preserve the infrastructure of the Notre Dame over the next 48 hours, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters outside the cathedral.

There is still structural risk to the building, which is being surveyed, he said.

Castaner added that it will take an enormous amount of time to reconstruct the building, saying that the process would take "days (and) months."

He said there was no suggestion that the cause was anything other than accidental, but confirmed that an investigation is underway to identify the precise reason for the blaze.

10:37 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Timeline of Notre Dame alarms emerges

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne in Paris 

Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images
Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Some details of the chronology of Monday's fire are beginning to emerge.

At 6:20 p.m. local time (12:20 p.m. ET), security guards at the Notre Dame first heard the fire alarm and evacuated the cathedral, even though they didn't see any sign of a fire, a spokesman for the Paris fire brigade told CNN. 

The fire alarm rang again at 6:43 p.m. local time (12:43 p.m. ET). That's when the cathedral’s security officers noticed the fire, Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz confirmed during a press conference on Tuesday.

9:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Companies pour more money into rebuilding fund

 Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
 Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

As Paris looks to restore its iconic cathedral to its former glory, it appears funding won't be an issue.

French cosmetics company L'Oréal, along with The Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, have said they will donate 200 million euros ($226 million) to the restoration efforts.

That puts the amount of donations so far from French tycoons and businesses, confirmed by CNN, at 601 million euros ($679 million).

That total doesn't include money from the city of Paris and the French government.

9:01 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Workers remove precious artworks from cathedral

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has tweeted a video of artworks being carefully removed from Notre Dame and taken away for preservation and protection.

Items rescued from the blaze include the Crown of Thorns, which some believe was placed on the head of Jesus during the crucifixion, and the linen Tunic of St Louis.

The works are being sent to Paris City Hall and to the Louvre museum for safekeeping.