As a blaze took over the Notre Dame cathedral on Monday, firefighters rushed to the rescue. The fire, however, proved very hard to put out.
There are four main reasons for this difficulty, and we will explain them here.
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1. The lead roof
According to Ted Henderson, who studied archaeology at Dartmouth College, the lead roof was specifically made to be waterproof which stopped the firefighters' water from going in.
“So the wood catches on fire, and it’s not actually exposed to the outside of the building anywhere,” Henderson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“In fact, the reason the roof is covered with lead is so water can’t get inside. It’s specifically fireproofed. So when the firemen, you know, arrive on the scene and they’re spraying [the] cathedral with water, it’s running off the sides of the lead roof and can’t access this void where the fire is actually spreading.”
2. The stone exterior
The stone exterior trapped heat and smoke, making matters far worse for the firefighters. "It was pretty evident in the first 20 minutes that it was going to be a bad fire," told CNN Gregg Favre, a former firefighter with the St. Louis Fire Department in the United States.
3. The cathedral's height
The Notre Dame's immense heigh made it so that the fire had extra oxygen to breathe. It also made the flames reach way up high, making it complicated for the water to get to them.
"The fuel load is way up in the air, and the firefighters can't get to it quickly," told CNN Glenn Corbett, associate professor of fire science at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
4. The risk of collateral damage
US president Donald Trump made the suggestion for an aerial intervention. However, the French Sécurité Civile accurately pointed out that water-bombing aircraft could lead to the collapse of the entire structure.
Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control. All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.— Sécurité Civile Fr (@SecCivileFrance) April 15, 2019
Despite the overwhelming challenges, the brave 400 firefighters and municipal workers managed to save much of the cathedral. Our hats go off to them for this impressive heroic feat.