By Tim Harfmann
What looked like a scene from a movie, was a horrific reality in France.
The Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames April 15 — just days before Easter. Watching the 850-year-old church crumble left Parisians and tourists alike in shock.
“I just can’t believe it. There’s just a whole part that’s just missing,” said one tourist days after the blaze.
Now, three months after the disaster, the New York Times uncovered just how close the cathedral came to collapsing entirely.
According to the report, the employee monitoring the alarm system had been on the job just three days and was working a double shift. He was responsible for watching 160 alarms.
When the emergency alert for the fire first came across, the employee notified a guard — but the guard went to the wrong location.
According to the Times, it’s unclear how much of the special alert the new employee even understood or conveyed to the guard.
By the time the fire department was called, it had been 30 minutes since the first alarm went off.
Officials said the blaze broke out in the attic, where there weren’t any sprinklers or firewalls to preserve the architecture.
Nearly 50 firefighters pushed through the northern tower of the medieval structure, but they were ordered to evacuate, fearing the tower would collapse and take the rest of the cathedral down with it.
Firefighters then climbed the southern tower instead and set up on a platform between them.
But the damage was done, leaving a gaping hole in the roof and a gaping hole in people’s hearts.
“To see it go up like that is pretty devastating,” said another tourist.
According to the report, officials have yet to pinpoint the cause of the fire, but do know it wasn’t criminal. They pledged to rebuild the historic cathedral.