THE community of Durham Cathedral has spoken of its shock after watching fire rip through Notre Dame on Monday night.

The Dean of Durham, Andrew Tremlett said: "It was utterly shocking watching the TV last night and seeing the aerial shots of the cross shaped church and the fire in the roof space. It was really shocking and heart-rending, quite saddening.

"But in this week when we are thinking about Holy Week and the death of Jesus Christ, resurrection and coming back to life you have hope they will be able to rebuild it."

"There was an amazing photo of inside the cathedral and one of the things that remains is a cross above the altar. It's astonishing how it survived."

He added: "Our faith as Christians is in Jesus Christ who died on a cross, that we mark on Good Friday. He was buried in a grave and he rose to life and so our message is there's resurrection and there is hope and there is new life."

Durham Cathedral, which was built by Normans between 1093 and 1133, pre-dates the gothic Notre Dame, which was completed by 1260.

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Durham Cathedral

The difference in architecture means while Notre Dame's roof is wooden, Durham has an arched stone ceiling, which is more resilient to fire.

The dean added that Durham has stringent measures in place to protect the building from fire.

"Following the great fire in York Minster 30 years ago, compartmentalisation was introduced here in the roof spaces so each of the roof spaces is sealed off from the others so if you fire in one area it doesn't spread to the next one.

"We have fire detection equipment which sniffs the air continually so if there's a fire, alarms go off."

The high tech system is also used at other heritage sites, including Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and London's Natural History Museum.

Maya Polenz, the cathedral's head of property, said: "We are well equipped. We have put all the measures in place that are reasonable to put in place."

During restoration work, the cathedral also uses a hot permit system, which requires work to be stopped two hours before leaving the site.

Firefighters also pay regular visits to the cathedral to ensure they know their way around the building, Ms Polenz added.