Home Emergency Management News Notre Dame Cathedral Burns: Cause of Fire Yet Unknown
Notre Dame Cathedral Burns: Cause of Fire Yet Unknown

Notre Dame Cathedral Burns: Cause of Fire Yet Unknown

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

In the early evening on Monday, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire. Emergency services were on the scene quickly working to control the fire.

The cathedral was undergoing an extensive renovation project. But considering the history of terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere in recent years, the reality is that citizens will wonder if the Notre Dame fire was terrorist-related.

VIDEO: Notre Dame cathedral spire collapses

There have been no reported casualties so far. But human casualties are not always the goal of terrorist attacks. Terrorists can also target buildings and structures of cultural significance. It is one of the unfortunate reasons why the general public no doubt will wonder if the fire was terrorist- related.

Terrorist Attacks Can Include Destruction of Buildings or Cultural Icons

Scholars of terrorism often note that terrorists tend to target places where people gather and can be injured or killed. The idea is to deliver their message. The general public often thinks of the horrific terrorist incidents such as World Trade Center in New York or the Boston Marathon bombing precisely six years ago today. The images from those terrorist attacks remain fresh in the minds of Americans.

Terrorist activity, however, doesn't have to be a large explosion to gain the attention of the public, nor does it have to be something that would create mass hysteria. Terrorist activity can send powerful messages if buildings or icons of a culture are damaged or destroyed. These incidents can send powerful messages to the general public.

Cause of Notre Dame Fire Will Be Carefully Investigated

Once the Notre Dame fire is contained, public safety officials will carefully examine the cause of the fire.

Of course, it is too early to say whether the fire was connected to terrorist activity. It is also too early to pinpoint the specific cause of the blaze.

If that examination reveals possible terrorist involvement, however, it will be particularly important for law enforcement officials not to reveal too much information while they seek the perpetrators. It will also be important to rebuild Notre Dame, even if some areas are heavily damaged.

The most powerful message that French authorities can send to the public is to continue the renovation and rebuild the 13th-century French Gothic masterpiece.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four Master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, History, a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is also trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard and a Lifeguard Instructor. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.