Could a Fire Like Notre Dame's Happen at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral?

Playing Cross Appearing to Glow at Notre Dame Alter Seen as Symbol of Hope

A day after Paris' iconic cathedral caught fire, Notre Dame is waterlogged and smoke continues to rise from its ashes.

But through all the destruction there was a symbol of hope Tuesday — a cross appearing to glow on the altar. It stood strong along with the church's famous stained glass windows, which survived the flames.

The fire erupted in the wooden structure beneath the roof at 6:50 p.m. Monday, and within an hour it had engulfed the entire roof and the famous spire. It has people wondering: Could such a disaster happen at one of America’s iconic cathedrals? 

Inside Edition spoke with Monsignor Robert Ritchie at the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, where a mass was being celebrated Tuesday for Notre Dame. 

Above the spectacular ceiling of St. Patrick's is a wooden structure just like the one at Notre Dame. 

"We have cameras in our attic at every moment of the day watching everything up there in case something were to happen," he said. 

But retired New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Wayne McPartland said cathedrals in the U.S. are still vulnerable.

"All cathedrals, especially the older cathedrals, are always in danger from a fire because they are basically standing lumber yards with all the wood that was used in construction," he said. 

McPartland also weighed in on advice President Trump gave to France on Monday. The president tweeted that flying water tankers should have been used to put out Notre Dame's flames.

"That's totally unrealistic if you drop tons of water from the air, especially on a burning structure like Notre Dame,” McPartland said. “That would lead to a partial or total collapse. Bad idea."

CBS News Correspondent Elaine Cobbe spoke to Inside Edition from Paris.

“Thousands of Parisans and visitors to the city have been crowding the quays and the bridges around Notre Dame today all coming to have a look, almost unable to believe that the spire is gone, that so much damage has been caused. A lot of people coming by say they were just stunned last night watching the fire continue,” she said. 

Michelle Obama was in Paris Monday on a boat tour on the Seine River. The tour normally passes by Notre Dame, but the boat turned back when the fire erupted. 

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