Video by Meredith Ganzman
Parisians continue to mourn an in-tact Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire brought the trademark spire up in smoke and reduced the cathedral’s beautiful ceilings to rubble.
In an effort to recognize the work of the firefighters who calmed the blaze and rescued priceless artifacts from the ruins, President Emmanuel Macron hosted a daylong tribute to the Paris firefighters.
Several hundred of these brave people filed into the presidential Elysee Palace courtyard where Macron and top government ministers gave their words of gratitude to the people who managed to salvage the remaining standing parts of the building as well as its most valuable contents.
The nine-hour battle to keep the flames at bay included 400 firefighters. Without their fast action, the building would have collapsed entirely.
Some stand-out heroes who were honored at the daylong tribute include fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier as well as Myriam Chudzinski – one of the first firefighters to reach the roof of one of Notre Dame’s two towers during the tragedy. It was there where she witnessed the collapse of the spire.
Fire officials have warned construction workers and other specialists of the building’s structurally precarious state.
While the tribute ceremonies took place, construction workers on-site at Notre Dame Cathedral worked to reinforce fire-weakened areas around the building’s famed rose-shaped windows. They’ve also used cranes to remove heavy statues that could potentially cause weakened support walls to crumble.
Macron has plans to rebuild the cathedral within five years, just in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics which will be hosted in Paris. All of this will be made possible by the $1 billion donated to reconstruction efforts by wealthy French families and companies.