The heat wave sweeping Europe this week has set record highs across France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. On Thursday, Paris was the hottest it has ever been, with the temperature hitting nearly 110 degrees. Notre Dame remains in a precarious state after suffering extensive fire damage in April, and one architect is worried the heat could make things worse.
The stone walls of Notre Dame are still full of water that had been pumped into the towers when firefighters put out the fire. At the moment, the sensors monitoring the cathedral aren’t showing signs of further damage. According to Philippe Villeneuve, the lead architect overseeing Notre Dame’s renovation, the heat could dry out the walls and compromise the cathedral’s structure. “What I fear is that the joints or the masonry, as they dry, lose their cohesion,” he told reporters, “and all of sudden, the vault gives way.” Though the structure has been stable since the fire, some parts of the vaults have yet to be secured. “[They] could still collapse at any moment,” Villeneuve said.
Reconstruction work on Notre Dame is set to begin soon: Last week, the French parliament approved a reconstruction bill that projects a timeline of five years. But some experts believe restoring the cathedral to its former glory will take longer, to ensure the structure remains intact.