Lori Hinnant: Shock, Sadness, But No Panic: Minutes that Saved Notre Dame: "The first alarm sounded at 6:20 p.m.... For twenty-three minutes, it seemed like a false alarm. Then at 6:43 p.m. a second smoke detector went off and the fire showed its face, flickering in the wooden timbers and visible to anyone who happened to look north from Paris’ Left Bank.... At 7:49 p.m., the 19th-century spire that was the architectural masterpiece of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and his post-Revolutionary restoration broke apart and fell through the nave. The bronze weathercock tumbled, taking with it three relics sealed inside in 1935. It had been 66 minutes since the first flames were spotted. The sky above the cathedral flamed orange, and the fire lurched toward Notre Dame’s iconic towers, then slipped inside. As darkness fell, 20 firefighters climbed inside the two towers 'at great risk to their lives, to attack the fire from the inside and save the building', said Laurent Nunez, deputy interior minister.... The 20 firefighters struggled on in the towers. Red-hot embers floated down from the glowing hole where the spire once stood, settling on the blackened marble floor and the pile of debris that was all that was left of the spire.... At 11:23 p.m., the fire chief said the rest of the structure, including the cathedral’s twin bell towers, had been saved. It had been within 30 minutes of collapse...


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