Notre Dame Artworks Are Safe

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Top French art conservation officials say the works inside Notre Dame suffered no major damage in the fire that devastated the cathedral, and the pieces have been removed from the building for their protection.

Isabelle Palot-Frossat of the center for research at the French Museums said neither fire, nor soot, nor water reached inside the cathedral’s walls. The fierce fire Monday evening was concentrated on the cathedral’s roof and destroyed its famous spire.

Judith Kagan of the French Culture Ministry said that many of the artworks span several meters (yards) across and were being transported to a secure location.

Frank Riester, France’s culture minister, said the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling is still “in an emergency situation.” Officials will have to carefully remove the debris that is weighing it down, cover the ceiling against the elements and dismantle the scaffolding that had topped the cathedral when it caught fire.

He said the building survey “will take several days or weeks.”

The 180,000 bees kept in hives in Notre Dame Cathedral that were thought to have perished in this week’s fire have been discovered alive.

The monument’s beekeeper, Nicolas Geant, told the AP Friday: “I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn. I thought they had gone with the cathedral.”

Geant has looked after the bees since 2013 when they were installed on the lead roofing of the famed monument as part of a city-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers.

Geant explained the insects have no lungs. Instead of killing them, the carbon dioxide in the smoke puts them into a sedated state. He said when bees sense fire they “gorge themselves on honey” and protect their queen. He said European bees never abandon their hives.

The rector of Notre Dame says a “computer glitch” might have caused the fire that ravaged a large part of the cathedral this week.

Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the glitch, adding that “we maybe find out what happened in two or three months.”

Le Parisien newspaper has reported that investigators are looking at whether the fire could have been linked to a computer glitch, or related to the temporary elevators used in the renovation work, among other things.

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