The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral has said that the Paris landmark is in a fragile condition and that there is a “50% chance” the structure might not be saved as the scaffolding installed before this year's fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument. Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said restoration work may not begin until 2021 and expressed his sadness that Notre Dame couldn't hold Christmas services this year. This will be the first time since the French Revolution that Notre Dame couldn’t celebrate Christmas.
“Today it is not out of danger," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of Christmas Eve midnight Mass in a nearby church. “It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.”
“Today we can say that there is maybe a 50% chance that it will be saved. There is also a 50% chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see the building is still very fragile,” he said.
The cathedral is a 12th-century monument that caught accident fire in April at the time of renovation. The accidental fire has destroyed its roof and collapsed its spire. With no more roof to keep the massive stone structure stable, the cathedral's surviving vaults are crucial to keep it standing, but they are vulnerable.
Around 50,000 tubes of scaffolding crisscrossed the back of the edifice at the time of the fire, and some were damaged. Removing them without causing further problems is one of the toughest parts of the cleanup effort.
“We need to remove completely the scaffolding in order to make the building safe, so in 2021 we will probably start the restoration of the cathedral,” Chauvet said. “Once the scaffolding is removed we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the number of stones to be removed and replaced.”
Chauvet has estimated another three years would be required after accessing the state of the cathedral to make it safe enough for people to re-enter the cathedral. However, the full restoration will take longer.
Whereas, President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants it rebuilt by 2024 when Paris would host the Olympics, but experts have questioned whether that time frame is realistic.
(With inputs from AP)