NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - People across the world have been watching events unfold in Paris where the Notre Dame cathedral has been burning much of the day Monday (April 15). Here in New Orleans, few are paying more attention than the French Consul General, Vincent Sciama.
Like many people, Sciama said the Notre Dame Cathedral is in his blood. He’s visited it many times and has been watching with tremendous concern as the 800-year-old building burns.
“The first time I saw it was shock and disbelief, it’s part of our self. I was born in Paris, we have 14 million people a year visit it. It’s a tragedy for the whole world,” Sciama said.
Sciama said firefighters have been working to remove relics and historical artwork from the building wherever they can. Ultimately, Sciama said he’s confident the cathedral will be rebuilt, but for now, the focus is on putting out the fire -- a task that has proved extremely difficult.
In a tweet, President Donald Trump called the fire “horrible,” and suggested using airplanes to dump water on the blaze from above. Sciama, however, said although tempting, this solution would be far too risky.
“It is a very good question,” Sciama said. “But in urban areas -- such as the center of Paris -- it’s dangerous, because the structure can collapse under six tons of water.”
Along with Sciama, a local architect and historian called the fire devastating.
Robert Cangelosi said he helped rebuild the Cabildo after it caught fire in 1988. It reopened in 1994 and now houses the Louisiana State Museum. He said it’s too early to say what the future will hold for the Notre Dame Cathedral.
“It’s just horrifying, seeing any part of history destroyed like that," Cangelosi said. “It’s been there [for] over 800 years. Whether it will be around or not in the future is not determined, at this point in time.”
Cangelosi said he had heard the church was struggling with the finances needed to for proper upkeep.
“It seemed like every time I had been there it was always under renovation. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of work nonstop, and with old structures, it’s constant maintenance,” Cangelosi said. "Like, when we get old, there’s a lot more doctors we’ve got to go see.”
Cangelosi said the Notre Dame Cathedral is iconic in western architectural history, because it is a classic example of the Gothic style that began in France.