(Graphic by Amelia Roberts)

Graphic by Amelia Roberts

Notre Dame Engulfed in Flames

April 17, 2019

On Monday, April 15th, Notre Dame Cathedral, an infamous Catholic church, caught fire and burned in front of the eyes of Paris. The blaze started at around 6:30 pm Paris time and lasted only about an hour, but it took its toll on the old building. The exact cause of the fire is unknown, but according to Jean-Claude Gallet, commander of the Paris firefighters, the fire started in the attic and spread throughout the roof of the building. The fire did not claim any lives, but it did topple the famous spire on top of the cathedral just a few minutes after it caught fire. Around 500 firefighters battled the flames for nearly 4 hours, finally getting the situation under control and rescuing the rest of the building from being burned.
A small group of Waukee Honor Choir students had the privilege of visiting Europe and singing in the Notre Dame Cathedral in the summer of 2018. “It’s crazy because in lots of photos of where the ceiling came crashing down, that’s exactly where the choir I was a part of stood while we sang beautiful music to everyone coming in and out of Notre Dame,” expressed junior Carrie Wilhite, one of the honor choir students who went on the trip. News of the fire spread quickly throughout social media, so it didn’t take long for students to find out about the incident. “I was scrolling through Twitter when I saw someone tweet about it and then 30 minutes later, it was trending on the news page,” explained junior Holly Rankin. “I don’t think I could really fathom at first that it would burn down, and then I thought about my family trips to Paris when we visit friends and Notre Dame not being there out our window. It was a weird feeling.”
Amidst the accident, a controversy arose. Only two days after the fire, nearly $1 billion in donations came in to help rebuild the cathedral, many of which came from millionaires and well-known brands such as Gucci. The rally of people coming together to raise this money in such a short amount of time raised the question: Where was this money during the Flint water crisis? During the countless bombings of mosques and temples? During the never-ending fight to stop world hunger? The affluent people and companies that gave the money to Notre Dame had the money all along and chose not to donate it to other causes, which is, of course, their own choice. Still, why here? Why now?
According to the NYT, investigators are now looking deeper into the cause of the fire, hypothesizing a possible electrical mishap, or an accident made by one of the workers. The fire possibly involved cigarette buds, after police found traces of them in the scaffolding of the building. Dozens of workers are already being interrogated.

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