Construction workers in Paris dangled from ropes and used saws to cut through the charred tangled remains of metal scaffolding as they resumed restoration work on Notre Dame cathedral.
Fire nearly destroyed the centuries-old structure in April 2019. The coronavirus outbreak suspended work rebuilding the church in March.
Huge towers of metal scaffolding erected before the fire — as part of a renovation — melted into a maze of tubes and pipes and must be cut away before any more work on the building can continue — 40,000 pieces of metal weighing as much as 200 tons must be carefully lifted out, which is expected to take three months.
“It's a bit like open-heart surgery because we are in the middle of the cathedral between the transept and its heart, precisely where the spire crashed," Christophe Rousselot said. He heads a charity collecting funds to help pay for the restoration.
The fire burned through the roof and destroyed the spire, but the main bell towers, walls, and most of the ceiling survived as well as many of the relics inside the church.
Engineers cannot enter the cathedral to inspect its vaults until the fused scaffolding is removed.
Once the scaffolding is gone, a temporary roof will be put up and the restoration work will begin.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes the cathedral will be restored and ready for visitors again by 2024, when Paris hosts the Summer Olympics.