Notre Dame's age, design fueled fire and foiled firefighters
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Notre Dame's age, design fueled fire and foiled firefighters

Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

NEW YORK — Is there anything firefighters could have done to control the blaze that tore through Paris’ historic Notre Dame Cathedral sooner?

Experts say the combination of a structure that’s more than 850 years old, built with heavy timber construction and soaring open spaces, and lacking sophisticated fire-protection systems left firefighters with devastatingly few options Monday once the flames got out of control.

U.S. Fire Administrator G. Keith Bryant says that with a building like Notre Dame, it’s nearly impossible for firefighters to attack a blaze from within. Bryant says they instead have to be more defensive “and try to control the fire from the exterior.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Authorities say that the cathedral’s structure, including its landmark rectangular towers, has been saved. But its spire collapsed.


Borenstein reported from Washington.


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Michael R. Sisak And Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

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