Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, which caught fire on Monday, had reached a “tipping point” and required an expensive makeover after deteriorating for years, experts had previously warned.
The iconic Paris landmark was hit with a major fire just days after the new restoration work had begun on the building. The fire caused the collapse of the church’s famous spire, which was made of wood and covered with lead. Parts of the roof of the building also collapsed as the fire continued to ravage the Gothic structure.
The peak of the church had been undergoing a major €6 million renovation — and the fire is thought to be linked to the revamp, French media reported, quoting the Paris fire brigade.
Structural problems have plagued the old building for years, including dangerously eroded stone, broken gargoyles and fallen balustrades, André Finot, the cathedral’s spokesperson, told the New York Times in 2017. Finot told the newspaper the situation was “spinning out of control.”
Despite the deterioration, tourists still flocked to the famous landmark, unaware of just how desperately a major makeover was needed.
The Friends of Notre Dame foundation has even been seeking to raise a massive €150 million ($180 million) from French citizens and Francophiles in the US to help foot the bill for a major facelift. The French government itself allocates about €2 million each year for upkeep of the building.
While experts said that the cathedral was not at risk of sudden collapse, many will now be fearing the worst, as parts have already collapsed.
Notre Dame, built in the 12th and 13th centuries, has seen more than one overhaul in its time, with one of the most major happening between 1844 and 1864 when its spire and flying buttresses were revamped.
“When you look at [the cathedral] from the front, there is no problem,” Friends of Notre-Dame head Michel Picaud told the Times. “But when you go behind the scenes, that’s when things start to go downhill.”
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