When the Notre Dame Cathedral caught on fire Monday afternoon, the world stood still and watched. Thousands of years of history went up in smoke as firefighters fought their hardest to put out the blaze. But why was the fire so difficult to contain? Well, according to experts, the firefighters deserve praise as they were working against all odds.
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On Tuesday morning, all that remained of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, were the two bell towers and the main entrances. According to CNN, 400 firefighters responded to the massive fire.
For hours, firefighters did all that they could, but the wooden beams that formed the frame of the building made it next to impossible to save the structure in its entirety. Gregg Favre, a former firefighter with the St. Louis Fire Department in the U.S. explained why the firefighters were at a disadvantage “before they ever even pulled out of the firehouse.”
“It was pretty evident in the first 20 minutes that it was going to be a bad fire,” Favre said. He went on to explain how the stone exterior made it next to impossible to send firefighters inside without the risk of them not coming back.
The New York Times reported the stone exterior acted as a conduit that held the smoke and heat inside, forcing firefighters to fight the blaze from above and on the ground level.
The massive height of the historic structure also made things tricky. “The fuel load is way up in the air, and the firefighters can’t get to it quickly,” Glenn Corbett, who is a professor of fire science, said.
While the fire raged on, countless people on social media chimed in with their opinion of how the trained firefighters should do their job. President Trump, for instance, tweeted that dropping water from a helicopter would be beneficial, a tweet that was widely mocked.
“One of the issues you’ve got here, is that thermal updraft, that’s a chimney effectively, you can’t fly a helicopter in hot air. The air is so thin,” Corbett said. Even though some of the structure was lost, these firefighters did the best they could, and that’s something to be thankful for.