The Notre-Dame fire in 2019 saw one of France’s oldest and most beloved buildings suffer significant and lasting damage. Thankfully no-one died in the fire, which was brought under control within hours.
The damage to the building was so extensive that restoration work is still ongoing, three years after the event. A new Netflix drama series explores the effect that the fire had on firefighters on the scene and people across France.
What is Notre-Dame cathedral?
Notre-Dame de Paris, which translates to ‘our lady of Paris’, is a medieval Catholic cathedral located on a small island in the river Seine in Paris. The building was built in stages between 1163 and 1345, and is one of the oldest buildings in the French capital.
It has been the setting of many historic events - it was desecrated during the revolution, Napoleon was coronated there, and in 1944, Parisians celebrated the liberation of their city from the Nazis in the cathedral.
It is a major site for both tourism and Christian worship and hosts many religious events. Christmas Mass was held at the cathedral every year from 1803 until 2019. In 2017 it was estimated that 12 million people visited the cathedral, making it almost twice as popular as the Eiffel Tower.
When did the Notre-Dame fire happen?
A fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris broke out on the evening of 15 April 2019 at roughly 6.20pm - firefighters arrived on the scene half an hour later and the fire was brought under control by 9.45pm.
In that time the cathedral’s spire had collapsed and extensive damage was sustained to the roof of the building - the stone vaulted ceiling protected the interior of the building from significant damage.
An investigation later found no evidence of arson - it is believed that the fire spread so rapidly because the roof timbers were very old and dry. A specific cause of the fire is not known, but it is believed to have been due to an electrical short circuit.
What happened during the Notre-Dame fire?
More than 400 firefighters were involved in controlling the blaze, along with 100 government workers who formed a human chain to remove valuable objects from the building. As a result of their efforts, most of the valuable artworks and relics were moved to safety during the fire. Three emergency workers were injured during the fire, but nobody died.
Following the fire, French president Emmanuel Macron said that the cathedral would be restored by 2024. A fundraising campaign was established ro raise funds for the restoration and raised pledges of more than €1 billion within a week.
Bee hives containing hundreds of thousands of bees were installed on the roof of Notre-Dame in 2013 in an effort to improve biodiversity, and there was concern that they would be lost to the blaze. However, the hives were located about 30 meters away from the main roof and therefore they survived the fire.
When is Notre-Dame on Netflix?
The six-part drama series was released on Netflix on Wednesday 19 October in one go - all episodes are available to watch now. The series follows firefighters involved in controlling the blaze and explores the impact that the fire had on different people across France.