tv Deadline White House MSNBC April 15, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
let's see if one of the outcomes of this might not be a recovery of faith. >> my thanks to all of my guests in this holy week. the symbol of catholicism and so much more in paris on fire. brian williams picks up our coverage. brian? we so begin the breaking coverage that continues our live ongoing breaking coverage of the fire we have been covering in paris. not just any fire. the world has been deprived of one of the most beautiful architectural landmarks of all time. the cathedral of notre dame. a tremendous loss. in no particular order to catholics around the globe during holy week. to the people of the paris, to the people of france and to the fop peop people of this world. it's hard to believe how little
is standing after just these few hours of fire. this was, sadly, one of the iconic, crushingly sad images of the day. the spire of the church, made of oak, was under renovation, more on that later, when the fire at the base just became too much for the supporting timbers, and it went down. on the left-hand side of your screen is the current live picture and there are many things to point out about it. number one, you see one so-called master stream from the paris city fire department trying its best to suppress the flames from inside the carcass of the church. and paris firefighters are going at it steadily from all angles around this building. periodically we see a shoot of new smoke and sparks from inside the structure. and we can only imagine what
that means. at this hour, 10:00 in paris, 4:00 on the east coast, the effort is nothing short of trying to save the remaining structure. that picture right there, they have an exposure fire going on in one of the stone columns. a stone building of this size and of this age doesn't just stand by itself. the flying buttress timbers that were the architectural structures of this building all played a role in keeping this building upright. an interior fire in a building like that is terrible news. especially for people who thought when it's all said and done we would at least have the stone towers that have stood watch over paris since the
1200s. you also see on your screen, the upper right, again the height of the blaze. sadly, at the base of the steeple, or spire, of the church. smoke filling the suburbs of paris. there were tourists and pa r' sheens this afternoon, reporting singed hair from the falling, burning embers. look at the smoke from its height. it looked to the amateur observer as a completely out-of-control, unfought fire. what we couldn't see was the scramble going on -- if you've been there you know notre dame is on a small island on the river sienne, and it was indeed hard to get there, lay down
supply lines. we assume they are drafting water out of the river and the adjacent canal. this was just moments ago in paris, still pockets of flame inside notre dame. the streets are jammed. the bridges over the sienne are jammed. the metro system has been closed down at some stops because of crowding. obviously there is one topic tonight in paris, obviously there is one site in paris and parisiennes are getting used to the what is left of the orange glow of notre dame. we can say with some certainty that the roof of the structure has all come in. again, you have basically an oven surrounded by stone.
firefighters have been unable to fight this as an interior fire. so they're all defensive operations. these are all master streams from the outside of the building pouring into the embers on the inside. they are trying to stop the progress of this. let's talk to carolyn margolies who was in paris, walking out with her son when this happened and tell us what you witnessed. >> hi. yeah. i actually was with my friend, not my son. but my friend and i were walking -- i'm sorry? >> no, i didn't say anything. go ahead. >> okay. so my friend and i were trying to walk to a bookstore and to do that we had to cross the river, we know the area well, so when
we saw smoke coming up from the left-hand side where we were walking, we thought that's close to where notre dame is. as we walked closer we noticed it was notre dame herself that was on fire. we couldn't see the flames at first, so we ended up walking more towards the right-hand side of the church and we could see the flames. it was mostly at the base of the spire at that point, they weren't too big but the smoke was pretty bad. we could feel ash and we were a couple blocks away. so we decided to walk further away. we talked for about seven minutes, looked back, and half of the roof was on fire. the smoke was green, orange and black, and we watched as flames consumed most of the roof and the spire collapsed into the building. it was wild to watch. >> carolyn, i hate to say it, but when you see a fire this big and when one of the first things
you notice is scaffolding, it's just an overwhelming chance that it's going to be related to the huge construction project that was going on. it's been kind of on and off, it has struggled for funding. nothing like the new effort will be to rebuild notre dame, certainly. but did you notice, was the construction all that visible with the naked eye? >> not from the inside. my friend and i went to the church on friday, and we didn't -- we didn't notice anything distinct from the inside. from the outside, if i remember correctly, there were some -- you could see some of the construction but it wasn't something that really seemed to distract at all from the church itself. so it didn't seem to be super overwhelming it wasn't something i looked at the church and noted how much construction was going on. >> describe the streets of paris
and the people of paris as best you can. >> yeah, so when we were first there we were pretty close, we were a couple of blocks away and no one knew what was going on, it was people mostly watching in horror, people recording with their phones. and the problem was because there was so many people so localized, it made it so cell reception wasn't working. so there was nothing on the news, no one knew what was going on. i could hear people asking in english, asking in french, what's happening, is notre dame on fire? is anything being done to stop this? as we got further and further away. we were further away but there were still crowds of people, like 10 minutes away, 5 minutes away just watching in many horror. when the spire collapsed, you could hear echoing gasps. we were close to street performers and the noise from their boom box was the only noise you could hear. everyone was shocked in silence. >> it's just after 10:00 local
time and i imagine people are still streaming outside because of the orange glow and just to take account of what's no longer on the skyline. >> yeah, i mean, it's -- people d dispursed after the flames started to die down and you could see firefighters using water to put out the flames and that didn't happen until about 45 minutes ago. at least it wasn't visible from where we were standing. there were hundreds of people and then it slowly started to disperse. people were going about their daily lives, i saw people riding their bikes, jogging, and still boat cruises going buy. people are still outside, but not the same numbers they were before. >> carolyn, marguiles thank you for joining us and describing what you saw in the streets of paris today.
we appreciate it. we're joined by bishop robert barren of los angeles. i understand you used to lead tours of the notre dame cathedral, and i can't believe we're having this conversation, but i need you to tell us, from the standpoint of a former tour guide, what's been lost? >> i lived in paris for three years, and while i was there, i lived about a 15-minute walk from notre dame. i used to go down every wednesday at noon, give a tour to english-speaking visitors. it was always a giant crowd. you can't calculate what's been lost i haven't seen the most recent pictures. i'm just praying about the windows. the rose window especially. >> i think the rose window visible from the sienne, i'm looking at it right now and what
appears to be sadly, just a skeleton. as you know, the windows are held together by lead one of the softest metals on earth anyway, when they're exposed to heat, they lose their ability to stay together. we're all looking at the same picture that this is not a leaded glass window, rather a skeleton. i know the rose windows were of huge concern to lovers of this cathedral. >> the one you see from the sienne is the south row. the north row is, in my judgment, the most significant of the rose windows. they date back to the earliest days. to me they're the biggest achievement. they were the highlight of the tour when i would give it.
their anticipation of heaven. when i heard about this fire, brian, that was the first thing that came to my mind was please save the roses. i thought the stone would survive, and the interior metal would be destroyed. the windows, not all of them go back to the 13th century but many do. that's a giant loss, if those have been destroyed. there's a gorgeous statue, 14th century virgin and child, i remember a cardinal when i was there, the jewish convert, he spoke of the jewish roots of christianity. he would often point of that gorgeous statue of the madonna with the child.
i think of him preaching in that space. i know it's a bit of cliche perhaps to say but this building which has survived wars and revolution, during the french revolution, they were going to tear it down. it bearly survived. and to see it now, perhaps permanently compromised by this fire is devastating. >> wasn't it hit by a bomb in world war ii? >> yeah, they removed the windows, though. they knew there was danger in both world wars, the windows were spared. but this came on so suddenly, they couldn't save the windows. there's been some discussion i know the crown of thorns which king luis the ninth bought. he went out with his emperor,
went out to meet the crown of thorns. during the revolution it was spirited away for safekeeping to the cathedral. i saw it there a number of times. it was in the treasury of the cathedral. i hope, please god, that was preserved. >> tell us the other relics, the other works of art. i hate the fact that we're taking inventory on what is basically assumed to be lost. >> again, the windows i'd say number one. the relics are of infinitely precious value to us. i think of the statue i referenced. but in the back part of the cathedral these magnificent sku sculptur sculptures. beautifully rendered. i'm sure they're gone.
they were just made of wood. there was the statue of the p shs. and the bells, i remember the deep bell ringing. all of that is associated with notre dame and perhaps all of it at least compromised if not destroyed. anyone that loves art -- set aside the moment for religion, it has power for catholics, but anyone that loves art, it's a jewel that anyone has produced. >> talk about the significance of notre dame for catholics of holy week. >> our lady of paris.
that cathedral is part of that magnificent sort of explosion devotion to the blessed mother that happened in the late 12th, early 13th century that gave rise to so many cathedrals, notre dame, notre dame our lady. so the spirituality which is so powerfully behind the buildings is there for catholics and it's happening in holy week, the most sacred time of year is the most devastating. >> for all the wrong reasons i hope you can get to a television as soon as you can there. we're watching now as they're fighting an interior fire in one of the central stone towers. we're hoping it can get knocked down. they have a snorkel on it now. getting high water on this fire was a big problem, remains a big
problem for paris firefighters. americans not familiar with the scope, the sheer dimensions of this building, probably can't understand why a fire boat can't come around the front and put this out. they discussed fire drops. and that was believed to be -- to perhaps do more damage than hoses in fighting this fire. but the world has suffered a tremendous loss today. bishop robert barren, thank you for joining us, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of los angeles. let's stay on this picture. we have a schematic of notre dame, which can let out viewers know exactly where this is being fought. so on the right-hand side of the picture are the two primary
stone towers. and this fire is in the tower on the upper right of the picture. the roof that is shaped like a cross is believed all gone. what is less obvious in the picture is the entire rising from the center of the building, which is gone. you see the trusses on the side, all of which played a role in suspending that roof. there is notre dame. so any roof structure you see there is gone. that has fallen in. and the fight is now on to maintain, to save, as much as the stone work, as much of the walls as possible. and a fact i know we will repeat several times. ground was broken for this
cathedral 600 years before there was a united states. 600 years before there was an idea of a united states. as you just heard the bishop say, the famous rose windows, the stain glassed windows were viewed by thomas e kwie thus and st. bon venture in real time as living, breathing humans walking the earth. and for catholics and non-catholics, that gives you some idea of the enormity of this loss. they are still pouring waters inside the confines of the stone walls of notre dame. early on i think it's safe to say that it was made clear that it's believed all humans who were inside were evacuated. this happened around the time tours end for the day.
but note the scaffolding immediately over the flames. that put a lump in the throat certainly of all the firefighters watching these pictures because it just indicated ongoing construction, which exponentially increases the chance of accidental spark and fire. geraldine is with us by telephone, the paris bureau chief for bloomberg. can you describe the streets of paris and the orange glow that pa r parisians are looking up at. >> the streets around notre dame are filled. so all you can see are blue lights from the police cars and
we see flames coming out from the building and people just staying here, absolutely petrified and police sort of pushing, pushing, pushing the ground back. you can hear people behind me -- you might not hear people behind me, but they're singing prayers, holy mary, mother of god, hoping somehow this iconic building can be saved. right now you can see on the side of the building firemen at work trying to save the north tower where a bell was installed recently. and actually wooden beams would crumble down and take the towers away. so this is what they're doing right now and what i can see right now. >> yes, they're worried about the structural walls because, of course, the wooden jousts of the roof played a role in keeping
them up. >> yes, you saw this fire crumble down. it crumbled down nearly after hour after the fire started, maybe before. and it threw drops of fire in the sky of paris. sort of extremely dangerous. so now they're trying to reign in the fire. >> every so often we see kind of a new burst of smoke and embers rising. and yes, in deed, we have heard reports of people having their hair singed, clothing burned. people out in paris because of the extraordinary amount of embers and debris that are airborne. >> absolutely. that happened to me, actually. which was when the crowd was pushed, forcefully, by the police saying it was extremely
dangerous. right now there's a huge corden around notre dame, no one can get near, not even police. only firemen are allowed. even the helicopter flying over it. they're using drones right now to try and inspect and see how threatened the north tower can be. but i think i still see flames coming out and water being hosed constantly, never stopping. and everyone here in the crowd just wondering if notre dame can be saved. >> what is it like tonight in paris? >> it's very bizarre feeling. paris has weathered a lot over the past few years, terror attacks, riots with violent protesters, protests, and this
is actually the heart of paris. notre dame is an iconic building. notre dame was here way before -- more than 700 years old. and the crowd here is, at the same time, petrified and crushed and nervous. and kind of -- actually not going away. i've heard people -- people told me they heard about it and they had to come and see it because they wanted to pray for it. so there you go. it's beyond sadness. for now it's -- and we'll see what comes out of it at the end of the day -- at the end of the night. a student that was just passing by was telling me i hope when i'm waking up tomorrow notre dame will still be there.
i dread going away because i don't want to see it crumbling down. thinking that because he will stay around it will keep notre dame standing. >> indeed a lot of people are going to sleep with that same feeling tonight in paris and around the world. >> thank you so much, so much for joining us and describing just how sad a scene it is in paris tonight. to our viewers, in that large box on the left, nighttime having fallen in paris, you see the local time 10:25 p.m. so many things to point out about this picture. number one, the stained glass window, which appear -- it appears to be gone. we don't have enough detail, even in hd, in this picture, to tell for certain. but it looks like the glass elements are missing. and, of course, that's one of
the most famous stained glass windows in the world. the other distinguishing feature of this live picture is the scaffolding. it is -- it's become almost a cliche in life. if there is a bad or tragic substantial fire that it was set off by a worker with a torch. we have absolutely zero evidence. it is way too early. for the equivalent of the paris fire marshal to have looked into the cause unless there's direct testimony from someone, it is way too early to know. there's more detail on the stained glass window, at least portions of the former stained glass window. and look at the top reach of the firefighters' aerials.
it is such a large structure and the city's streets in paris are so twisty, turny, and tiny that it is hard to keep on hand the size hardware you would need to fight a medium high-rise fire, to fight a fire of this size. we're happy to be joined by tom von ness, former fdny commissioner. thank you for being with us. fill in the gaps what i've been saying about fighting this as an exterior fire and the role of the ceiling joists and keeping up the walls. >> you kind of hit it on the head, brian. it's too early to say how it started, but you and i -- you've been around new york city long enough to know that if you had to make a bet, you'd bet it was the construction going on.
they may not have had a fire watch, enough water ready to put a small fire out immediately. you don't know that for sure yet, but it really makes everybody aware of how important it is to put a fire out quickly. because once something like this gets going with an inability to get enough water on it, everything they were putting on it looked like it was a garden hose. and we know it's not the case. they put a lot of water on it, and probably put it on from six or seven different places but it wasn't enough. i've been up in the eves of st. patrick's when they did that construction, they did a phenomenal job. but when you get up there you see these places are like lumberyards in the eves and the outside roof is misleading because it's stone or copper. the inside ceiling you think it's plaster, but in between is
a tremendous amount of lumber that if it gets going you're going to have a tough time putting it out. that's what they ran into today, didn't get it put out fast enough. >> i heard this described earlier today as basically a stone oven that was fuel of fuel. what we're seeing now is the remaining fuel, lumber, getting burned off. >> sure. the roof collapses, drops onto the stone floor, now you have the artifacts and art that the bishop was talking about before. if they knew they had two hours to get everything out, they would have gotten it out. but i bet the chiefs in the interest of the safety of the firefighters didn't want to put anybody in there because they didn't want to risk somebody's life for a statue or piece of art. but when the roof collapses, now you have a roaring inferno in there. i guess they're coming in from every door, that's why the chief said we'll know in 90 minutes.
he'll know how much of the structure and art they could save. statues might survive, maybe. who knows. who knows what's going to be left in the morning. >> help our viewers in the difference in hardware between fire fighting, let's limit it to the fdny and paris. obviously the streets there dictate they cannot use the hardware, the tower ladders we have in new york city. enormous vehicles. they have more, i guess i call it, articulated skirt truck with a bunch of elbow joints. i don't know that it's any less high than a new york city aerial when extended all the way. >> some of them are actually higher. i looked at getting some of those for new york city just to have some of them for a place
you could really use it in extreme situation. so some of them really get high. but you're right, they don't have the capability to pump the amount of water that we have, though. and our trucks are -- we are situated very differently. there is room around notre dame and you've got the river there, you could be shooting it in from fire boats. but like you mentioned before, the angle is like shooting it up in the air and it's dropping down. it's not like you can get the volume of water that you need when the fire gets going to that degree. early on, yes, but not once it's roaring like that. >> the water on the fire is reduced to steam almost instantly before it ever reaches the seat of the fire, correct? >> yeah. especially when they're shooting it from so far away. the amount of heat coming off that roof earlier and i guess still now. it looks like it's less now, but you don't know how long it is.
it could be the length of a football field, you know. >> yeah, i was waiting this afternoon to see if they were going to concentrate on exposures. and it looks like now they are. i'm seeing a few more water curtains being extended to some of the stone walls and structures. and it looks like they're trying to pro few lakt cli wet down some of the other structures around it. they didn't have the luxury of time earlier, they were doing primary fire fighting. we just lost the photo, the picture broke up, but one of their aerial ladders, which is manned. people may also not understand as we're looking at snaked supply lines through the city streets. the firefighters up on the aerials controlling the nozzle are breathing off air tanks because they're in the thick of the smoke and they need to often
come down and change tanks, correct? >> yeah. the tanks don't last very long at all. >> we're just looking, the scaffolding is such a sad reminder that one of the -- the focal point of one of the repair projects was the spire. made almost entirely of oak and as you mentioned, commissioner, didn't take long for that to go down. >> it's amazing how long the scaffolding has stayed up. i would have thought by now it would have crumbled, with the amount of heat. >> it's incredible the amount of radiant heat coming off that building. and parisians are looking up at that glow. thank you, tom, for lending your expertise to our coverage. really appreciate it. an anna lees borg has been standing
by for us. i'm told you're as close as one is allowed to get there? >> that's correct. i'm at a bridge right behind notre dame. and as we speak some 400 firefighters continue working to try and fight these flames. but their efforts seem absolutely powerless in the face of a magnitude of this fire. we understand that a french interior ministry official has said that the firefighters might not be able to save the notre dame cathedral and, of course, this is a devastating news for people here in paris. but also over the country and around the world. this is a momentum that has survived virtually everything. the nazi's couldn't destroy notre dame. and today, residents and tourists alike just stood by this church in shock. absolutely terrified, but also
bewildered by how this fire has completely ravaged the roof and now continues to wage inside as we speak. eyewitness described to me earlier today scenes of shock. they were terrified. they described moments of fear when they were evacuated from the church. an american tourist told me he stood by the sidewalk just watching that spire collapse before his eyes. now the paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into what may have caused the fire. and as i speak, there are thousands of people still out, still standing and watching this fire. the feeling is that of extreme sadness with a loss of such an important, iconic monument. >> i just can't imagine, knowing a little bit about paris, having
visited there many times, what this has done to the street life tonight, the cafe life tonight, to the city's heart and soul and whether people are opting to stay inside and watch television coverage of the sadness or go out and try to sample some of it for themselves? >> everywhere i look, literally everywhere i look right now, i'm standing right next to the church, everywhere i look, people are gathered. there are thousands of people right now gathered by the river seine. there are thousands standing at their windows. and i don't think anyone is going to be able to get any sleep tonight. i think people will be staying out and just watching to see what happens next. of course, this information from the french interior ministry that firefighters aren't sure they'll be able to salvage this
structure is just heartbreaking. i have seen so many people in tears. strangers hugging each other, saying they could just not believe that something like this could happen. and it is something horrific. >> i want to thank you, with all of your other responsibilities, for bringing the coverage to us -- >> can i interrupt you for one second? >> yes. >> thousands of people are applauding. the church -- some of them have been praying earlier but just now, the admiration for the work of the firefighters. and people started clapping. it's been really, really moving to see how people have come out
together in, of course, this moment of extreme sadness just to be by each other's side and try to find some comfort in what's happening tonight. >> thank you for adding that. it's a bit of flavor and color from that city tonight. thank you so much for being with us. again, just focussing the attention of our viewers on the live -- even though we're getting some break up, the screen pixalates a little bit on occasion. you see the limits of fire fighting there. you see the master streams at the end of aerial ladders that are just really nozzles on poles, and it's a reminder of the scale of the cathedral. these are the stone walls that are still standing. so local fire commanders have to be mindful, walls can fall either way. they have lost their timber
supports that connect them to the roof and to each other. so a wall can fall out, it can collapse inward. i don't imagine the local at th of those walls. so a lot of that equipment auto appears to be an articulated arm with a nozzle at the end. i just want to read you from the associated press. this was about 10 minutes before the hour. the fire chief in paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at notre dame from spreading and causing more destruction, quote, we are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading. if it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be. this is an ongoing crisis in the city of paris. and we're tempted to say that
they're getting the last of it. but there you see, this is still a kind of stone box that is full of fuel. wood, as old as any of the wood in construction in this world, dating back to 11 and 1200. the ground breaking for this building i believe was in 1160. not to mention some of the great art work in the world. david ignatius is with us. he's normally one of our guests when discussing politics and news coverage of this administration. he joins us today in the context of having spent three years as executive editor of the international herald trib in paris. put in words the loss we're
witnessing in real time. >> watching the images i'm sure every one of us feels a vitrol sense of loss. this is a place where history has emerged over so many centuries back to medieval times. i remember the first time i went to notre dame when i was a teenager, lightian saying a prayer. i think the one piece of hope i take as i look at these images is that the whole world is watching with the same sense of shock. there are these moments that the world comes together as one with the same sense of tragedy. and maybe the images of the fire and the tower collapsing will
pull us together and remind us of what's common and shared by people. >> there is that tragic emptiness that you reference. there's nothing we can do about this. >> there's nothing we can do. we need to watch, and i think just watching is to pay respect. in my years living in paris, i can remember taking my children almost every weekend down to that old quarter -- it's a place where people would come to roller skate and skate board and dance and play music. and this ancient building would draw the youngest residents of paris around it. it was part of what made it so marvelous. you just believe with the french authorities, that this will be somehow, overtime, rebuilt. >> we're sitting here in rockefell rockefeller plaza in new york.
the rockefeller family was among those that came forward after the bomb damage to notre dame in world war ii to help do the repairs. notre dame has had an up and down existence. the latest repair project was strangled for funding at one point. and it's kind of a miracle that after witnessing two world wars the place was standing today. but it's also a reminder, and i mentioned the rockefeller family because people of means came forward around the world to help make notre dame what it was start of business today. >> i hope the dollars and the euros start flowing today. this is a place that the world cherishes. paris has burned before and come back. revolutions have swept the streets around notre dame over the centuries.
this is a place where there were public executions, some horrible moments in french and human history. and yet notre dame always came back as the center. as you say, there is something about tragedies like this that call forth something in the human spirit that wants to rebuild, save, cherish. >> just an incredible loss. let me just access your knowledge of history. talk about the items, the iconography in notre dame, on the list of things we're fearing for tonight. >> i couldn't give you a list of the specific items. i know as you walk into notre dame there's this eerie, haunting half light with a wonderful shimmering light
through the stained glass windows, the candles people come to light and remember loved ones, the stalls where priests could come to hear confessions. the statuary. the statues of ancient kings, princes, figures of the church. we often walk through places that are museums, but this was -- this was a living, breathing, walk into the past. i can't -- i hope viewers can think of places like it. that -- those objects, those beautiful things can't be recovered, but the spirit -- the spirit remains. >> david ignatius, thank you so very much for joining us. i almost feel like offering condolences as someone who loved that building so much and had so much family experience in and around it. what a beautiful, beautiful place. and what a tragic story we are
covering. david also reminds us, this is a local church, this is a c congregation, there are weddings, confession, there's sunday mass, there's confirmations, there's christenings all things that take place in a catholic church. and now we're seeing that life snuffed out. the water supply now established between those north and south towers and what remains of the structure. again, this entire area was covered by roof. it's almost perverse that the scaffolding survives in some places where the roof has given way. and now with night fall we get the eerie views of vacant
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you know reliable support when you have it, and that dependability is what we want to give our customers. at comcast, it's my job to constantly monitor our network. prevent problems, and to help provide the most reliable service possible. my name is tanya, i work in the network operations center for comcast. we are working to make things simple, easy and awesome. it affects the soul, because it's a house of prayer, and faith. it affects the heart, because it's a place of love and gathering and community. it affects all of the senses, because, for the french, my god, for the world, notre dame cathedral represents what's most
noble, what's most uplifting, what's most inoperational abo about -- inspirational about the human project and to see that reduced to ashes, my, oh, my, i remember our song "from the ashes we rise up." we had ash wednesday, we want to rise up with jesus at easter, and i believe that there will be some rising. >> that was a kind of impromptu press conference. i would suppose no more than 500 yards from the studio, where we are right now, st. patrick's cathedral across fifth avenue from rockefeller plaza. timothy dolan, the cardinal, here in new york, and i was told by at least two co-workers that people are streaming in to st. patrick's in new york, as a way of, i don't know, touching something connected to notre dame. i want to show you the latest live pictures of this firefight, and again, you see now on the right-hand side of your screen a
master stream that is an occupied aerial ladder, so that is manned by the paris fire department. on the left-hand side of your screen, what you see there i am guessing is more of an effort to put up water curtain for exposure, that is a more diffuse water stream. does not look like it's involved in fire fighting efforts per se as much as it's probably being used to cool down exposed structures. the saddest part of this picture is the ongoing orange glow. firefighters around the world will have postmortem discussions and breakdowns of what happened in this incident today, but civilians looking on know there's sheer physics involved.
it is very hard to have a piece of apparatus as big as notre dame cathedral. it is impossible for a fire boat in front of the structure to have the reach, the pumping and drafting power to send a stream from a body of water inside that structure. you see the very height of the aerial ladder, and you heard former new york city fire commissioner tom van nessen say some of the european equipment is indeed taller than what most of our major city departments use in this country, but at a certain point, and there's a five inch supply line, that in the united states gets attached to the familiar fire hydrants in our towns and cities. they'll also use -- there you go, that is a gated valve that brings water from a central location and feeds several
hoses. you're up against physics, you're lobbing water inside a burning structure, and a certain percentage of the water you're putting on the fire is converted instantly to steam, and never gets on the target. a fire this big and this hot, that no doubt is the equivalent of tom van nessen's former job, the fire chief, battalion chief and commissioner at the paris command post, familiar white board where they lay out what units they have working this fire. obviously city of paris firefighters very experienced. they are a respected bunch. there is the drone operator, the woman on the left. modern fire departments have utilized drones since they came on the scene, as an easy, inexpensive way of giving you eyes on the fire. in this case, very frustrating to know just what you're up
against. this is a traditional canvas hose coming off the back. here is part of the drafting operation. they simply stick a hose with a sump screen around the bottom into a body of water, and start drafting out of there, as much volume as their pumps will permit. on the left there, a very typical fire pumper in europe, but again, look at that. the extent of the aerial ladder and still, look at the tiny percentage of water that is getting on the target. at some point with such low water pressure, such demands on the water pressure in that entire half of the city. you're just protecting the exposures from heat and flame. back to the loss of this building, this icon, the meaning behind this, the meaning especially for the world's catholics during holy week. we're joined by one of our
best-known veterans on this topic, george weigle, our nbc news senior vatican analyst. i can't say this often in life but it's quite possible the last time i saw you was indeed in rome. it's good to talk to you, my friend, and i hate the reason that brings ux togethes togethe. >> yes, brian, so do i. i feel so much like bishop barron who you were talking to moments ago, it's devastating. like him, i'm thinking first of all of the glass, not simply as a beautiful art object, but we should remember that these great gothic cathedrals were basically catechism books, the stonework, the glass, all total e told the biblical story, the christian story, to educate a pre-literate population, which itself was deeply involved in the building
of these great gothic structures. so if we feel a special wound here at the loss of this glass, i think it's not just about the aesthetics. i think there's some almost preternatural sense that something sacred has been destroyed here. hopefully will rise again. >> i'm no fire investigator, but the shot of the front of the archway that we keep showing where they're staying, one of the rose windows once stood, we've been speculating here that the glass is indeed gone, because it appears see-through. another clue is, there is a visible flame and smoke damage coming out through the window that would not have happened, had the glass not been breached, so it appears that our worst fears, and that is that soft
lead that holds the panes together that makes it a work of art gave way probably early on, with the intense heat on the other side. >> yes, and of course, one of those portals you were talking about is a rendition in stone of the last judgment, which gives you know, a rather apocalyptic quality to this whole business. i actually have in my office here, where i'm sitting, a picture of sandbags being put up in front of notre dame in the summer of 1918 as the last great german offenses of the german war came within some 40 miles of paris. this is a structure which has seen an awful, awful lot of history. it somehow survived because of that history including the bloody awfulness of the french revolution, and i was saying earlier to chris jansing, and i'll repeat the thought here, i
have to wonder if the shock of this, and the sense that people have that they have wounded in a way that, say the claollapse of the eiffel tower would not wound them, might remind an increasingly secular french society what its deepest historical and cultural roots are, which are biblical and christian. so we don't know what comes out of catastrophes like this, but there may be some strange pro providential dimension to this but we'll only learn 100, 150 years out. >> this survived world war i, this survived the nazis in world war ii. this survived by the skin of its teeth the french revolution,
when few people or structures in the immediate neighborhood did. i'm going to put your formidable intellect and memory on front and center, and ask you, what are the icons inside notre dame that are the most notable that you are worried about the most? >> well, as our friend, liz lev, said in the previous hour, brian, there is a pious tradition that notre dame includes a relic of the crown of thorns from the passion of jesus christ. were that to be lost in holy week, of all weeks, that would be a devastating loss to the christian world.