PARIS — The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is now stable and secure enough to be rebuilt, and officials are aiming to reopen the church in 2024.
French officials made the announcement more than two years after a fire tore through the 850-year-old cathedral, The New York Times reported.
Stabilizing the Gothic-style church was difficult because crews had to dismantle scaffolding and clear debris on the floor, the newspaper reported.
“We’re officially saying that the cathedral is now saved, that it’s solid on its pillars, that its walls are solid,” Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, who leads the government’s Notre-Dame restoration task force, told French broadcaster BFM-TV. “We’ll be able to firmly go ahead with the phase of restoring and rebuilding the parts destroyed by the fire, so that it’s ready to reopen for services and public visits in 2024.”
The “safety phase” of restoration included wrapping and protecting the cathedral’s gargoyles, reinforcing the flying buttresses, fortifying the gables and removing burned scaffolding, according to the Friends of Notre Dame de Paris.
Georgelin said a reopening would be a “victory for all of France.” It also would fulfill President Emmanuel Macron’s promise that reconstruction could be completed within five years of the April 15, 2019, fire that severely damaged the structure, CNN reported.
Flames consumed the attic of the cathedral before eating through the roof and climbing up the cathedral’s iconic spire, which toppled into the vaults below, the Times reported. The cathedral came dangerously close to collapsing, according to the Times.
There is still no definitive evidence as to what caused the blaze, CNN reported. Investigators said the blaze could have been ignited by a cigarette or an electrical fault.
More than $950 million has been donated to rebuild the cathedral, the Times reported.
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