FDNY commissioner supports firefighters battling Notre Dame fire

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro tweeted his support Monday for Paris firefighters working into the night — and in hazardous conditions — to battle the flames that ravaged historic Notre Dame cathedral.

“Images of Notre Dame in flames are an awful sight to behold,” Nigro wrote. “The thoughts of the FDNY are with the members of @PompiersParis as they bravely battle this terrible fire in one of the world’s most beautiful and historic houses of worship.”

The flames broke out shortly before 7 p.m. local time on a scaffolding near the top of the building and quickly spread through the centuries-old cathedral and up its famed spire, sending it crumbling down about an hour after the fire started.

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told local media.

The cathedral was built over a 200-year period starting in 1153, and is located on Ile de la Cite, an island in the River Seine, according to its website.

Though officials did not immediately specify what caused the fire, the 850-year-old landmark had just begun a major restoration earlier this month — which means firefighters from Pompiers de Paris are navigating around construction debris and watching for hazardous, potentially highly flammable materials, noted Gregg Favre, a former deputy director of public safety for Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Given its age, the cathedral was likely built largely with timber — “with large open spaces and very few (if any in a church like #NotreDame) fire stops,” or mechanisms used to “seal openings in buildings,” Favre wrote in a series of tweets.

“If the fire started high on the structure, there is a chance that Paris Fire can save the walls and unimpinged areas of the Cathedral,” he wrote. “But the roof has basically been surrendered at this point. The peak, the lack of access and fire spread means almost certain loss.”

Favre also noted that firefighters will have to lug heavy two-and-a-half inch fire hoses through the interior of the building, which are “difficult to maneuver and against a fire like this, largely ineffective.”

Other methods of getting water on the fire from the exterior of the building would likely not reach the flames on the roof line — its “just too high,” he wrote.

Another issue is the lack of controlled ventilation.

“Their design is to be open and airy,” he said. “Great for Sunday worship, terrible for managing fire spread.”

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