The New York Times has a very good in-depth article about the Notre Dame fire. [nyt]
When I saw the fires burning behind the vents in the north belltower, I thought it was going to burn out, collapse with the bells, and tear down the bridge and the south tower. Apparently, the pompiers on the scene also thought that, and made some daring moves to prevent it.
The article includes a really impressive time-coded series of images that show just how fast the fire spread. It looks like about 5 minutes before it was beyond control – which is bad when it takes 5 minutes to get up the stairs.
I know a woman who went in for firefighter training, and she was telling me about all the crazy “run while hauling huge weights” qualification tests. I thought those were just macho nonsense but I realize now that I was wrong. I’ve been up the stairs in Notre Dame many times, but it’s always been leisurely. Even when I was a kid I hardly had the energy to run up those stairs. Yeah.
Chapeau aux pompiers!