Workers in Paris began removing large sections of damaged scaffolding from the exterior of Notre Dame cathedral this week.
The scaffolding had initially been placed on the cathedral's old spire for renovation, but was caught in a 2019 blaze that destroyed the spire and roof.
Construction on the historic cathedral began in 1163 and finished in 1345. Thousands throughout France mourned the cathedral's partial destruction.
In all, the workers are set to remove around 200 tons of the scaffolding. Some pieces are thought to have melted together in areas because of the heat of the blaze, according to a report from the Associated Press. French President Emmanuel Macron had proposed in 2019 to rebuild the cathedral in five years. Work was slated to begin this March, but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's the last check-up before open-heart surgery," Christophe-Charles Rousselot of the Notre-Dame Foundation told Reuters."The rope workers will swing from tube to tube to cut up the scaffolding. ... It is an extremely complicated, very delicate operation that has been prepared for months."
According to the Reuters report, church officials are aiming for the cathedral to be open for Mass by 2024 when the city is scheduled to host the Olympics.