Notre Dame Cathedral came much closer to collapse than people realized at the time, according to a New York Times investigation. Shortly after President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene that evening, Gen. Jean-Claude Gallet, the head of the Paris fire brigade, reportedly led a briefing that explained just how dangerous the fire had become. Ariel Weil, the mayor of the city’s Fourth Arrondissement, recalled: “[Gallet] came in and told us, ‘In 20 minutes, I’ll know if we’ve lost it... The air was so thick. But we knew what he meant: He meant Notre-Dame could collapse.” Weil added: “At that point... it was clear that some firefighters were going to go into the cathedral without knowing if they would come back out.” A firefighting team risked their lives by carrying hoses up the southern tower, then entering the blazing northern tower from there. One firefighter reportedly almost fell through the cracking steps, but the risk allowed them to get the flames under control and save the structure.
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