President Donald Trump has been lashed for tweeting advice to French firefighters. Picture: Eric Baradat
President Donald Trump has been lashed for tweeting advice to French firefighters. Picture: Eric Baradat

Trump lashed for ‘ignorant’ fire tweet

As a catastrophic fire tore through one of the world's most beloved cultural treasures, US President Donald Trump assessed the response from the other side of the globe and offered unsolicited advice for firefighters.

"So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris," Mr Trump tweeted earlier today as more than 400 firefighters tried to save the Notre Dame cathedral.

"Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"

Mr Trump had tweeted from Air Force One, minutes before he landed in the US state of Minnesota for a speech.

"They're having a terrible, terrible fire," Mr Trump later told reporters. "It looks like it's burning to the ground."

France's civil defense agency, Sécurité Civile, tweeted - once in French and once in English - less than two hours after Mr Trump sent his tweet and appeared to directly respond to the US president.

"Helicopter or aeroplane, the weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre Dame and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity," the agency wrote in French.

And despite never posting updates in English, the agency then sent out a second tweet.

Mr Trump's tweet was almost universally slammed, with many of the president's Twitter followers calling his advice "ignorant".

His followers also compared Mr Trump's tweet to that of his predecessor, the former US President Barak Obama.

An archived article from the LA Times also extinguished claims water bombing would be successful.

In the 2008 article, fire officials from the US referred to water air tankers as "CNN drops" and said they are sometimes "a needless and expensive exercise to appease politicians".

"Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won't do any good. Such pressure has resulted in needless and costly air operations, experienced fire managers said in interviews," the article read.

Firefighters have been able to bring the fire under control and save Notre Dame's main structure.

Two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed however the "fire is now weaker", secretary to the interior minister Laurent Nunez said.

"We are now in a time of cooling but both towers of the cathedral are safe. We're still working to save the cathedral's work of arts," Nunez told reporters.

Notre Dame's spectacular gothic spire also collapsed in a tower of flames, with hundreds of Parisians and tourists screaming out in horror as the structure crashed to the ground.

'A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY'

"We will rebuild Notre Dame together", an emotional French President Emmanuel Macron vowed on Monday as he visited the famed Paris cathedral which was partly ravaged by fire.

With tears in his eyes, Mr Macron said that "the worst has been avoided" thanks to the work of firefighters who battled for hours to save the Gothic cathedral's two towers and facade.

He vowed to draw on "the best talent" to rebuild what had been destroyed.

"What happened tonight in Paris and at Notre Dame Cathedral is a terrible tragedy," Mr Macron said.

"The worst was avoided even if the battle has not been completely won yet and the next few hours will be difficult."

The president described the 850-year-old monument at the heart of Paris as "the epicentre of our life" and the cathedral of "all the French", whether religious or not.

He said that "starting tomorrow" he would launch an international appeal for the restoration of the beloved church.

"And we will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect," he said, flanked by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit.


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