As firefighters continue to battle a fire consuming Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, speculation into the cause of the blaze has pointed to the recent renovations of the church.
On Monday, part of the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral collapsed as the fire continued to spread, prompting billowing smoke to consume the church.
While a cause has not been identified, an investigation into the fire has been launched by the Paris prosecutor's office.
According to the Paris fire brigade, the church fire may be the linked to the recent renovations of the cathedral spire, which had seen the historic building covered in scaffolding, Bloomberg reports.
The cathedral, which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, began undergoing renovations recently in an effort to repair damage from time, pollution and weather, according to The Local, which reported the £5.1m ($6.8m) overhaul was financed by the French state.
According to the Associated Press, the removal of the cathedral’s statues just days ago were part of the renovations, which saw bronze religious statues from atop the church removed for the first time in more than a century.
The 12 apostles and four evangelists were lowered by a crane and then onto a truck, before they were transported to southwestern France.
The recent renovations marked the first time the historical landmark had undergone significant renovation since 1844 to1864, when the spire was redid.
In 2017, it was reported by the New York Times that Notre Dame, which sees 13m visitors each year, was in desperate need of structural updates.
At the time, the cathedral’s spokesperson André Finot pointed out that “everywhere the stone is eroded” and each time the wind blows, more pieces of stone fall from the cathedral's roof.
However, the decision to renovate may be behind the blaze that caused “colossal damage” to the structure.
Speaking to The Times, Vincent Dunn, a fire consultant and former New York City fire chief said that fire hose streams could not reach the top of the cathedral and that buildings such as this are “built to burn.”
“These cathedrals and houses of worship are built to burn,” he said. “If they weren’t houses of worship, they’d be condemned.”
Glenn Cobertt, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York added: “There’s a history of churches and synagogues and other houses of worship falling victim to construction fires,” citing open flames and sparks from torches and welders as the possible cause.
Speaking during an appearance in Minnesota, President Trump also speculated about the cause of the fire.
“They think it was caused by renovation,” he said. “I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, what’s that all about?”
Despite the claims, the French junior interior minister said Monday the cause of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral is still unknown.
While the 16 statues removed last week are safe from the blaze, other priceless works of art may be lost in the fire, among them the cathedral's stained glass windows.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Finot told French media.
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