Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Trump Suggested Using Tanker Jets To Drop Water On Notre Dame But French Officials Said That's A Really Bad Idea

Deploying water drops from the air "could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral," officials said.

Posted on April 15, 2019, at 5:45 p.m. ET

Susan Walsh / AP

President Donald Trump's suggestion on Monday that tanker jets be used to drop water on the historic Notre Dame Cathedral as it burned prompted French officials to swat down the idea as being potentially even more destructive.

As the fast-moving fire gutted one of Paris's most historic landmarks on live television, Trump tweeted from Burnsville, Minnesota, saying, "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"

So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!

As media outlets in France started featuring the tweet in their broadcasts, French officials took the unusual step of rebuffing the point in English on Twitter, pointing out that the force of water dropped from an aircraft could end up being the cause of the cathedral's destruction.

"All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral," the French Interior Ministry's Civil Security and Crisis Management agency tweeted.

In fact, the account tweeted four times to address the idea of fighting the flames from the air, which they said could cause more damage than the flames.

"All means are committed with the exception of the technically unsuitable Canadair aircraft for extinguishing this type of fire," the agency first tweeted in French.

Francois Mori / AP

"The airdrop on this type of building could lead to the collapse of the entire structure," the agency followed up in a second tweet.

In a third tweet, the agency explained why the airdrops could be counterproductive to its efforts to save the cathedral.

"Helicopter or airplane, the weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre-Dame and cause collateral damage to the surrounding buildings," the agency stated.

Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control. All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.

In a fourth tweet, the agency again explained its reasoning, but this time in English.

The fire posed a unique challenge for firefighters as they tried to save the 13th-century structure. Not only is the building made of stone, but officials said the entire wooden interior of the cathedral would likely be destroyed. The cathedral is also home to several pieces of art and historic items that officials were trying to save from the flames.

After the fire broke out around 7 p.m., the cathedral's ceiling and 90-meter (295-feet) spire eventually came crashing down. But as it approached midnight, officials said they had managed to stop the spread of the fire.

Police said there were no deaths and it was unclear if there were any injuries.

ADVERTISEMENT