Fire devastates Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the eight-centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.
The fire, after burning for about 8 hours, was largely extinguished by 0300 CET on Tuesday. Earlier, in addition to battling to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing, firefighters tried to rescue religious relics and priceless artwork. One firefighter was seriously injured - the only reported casualty.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, featured in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year.
The cathedral, which was built over a century starting in 1163, was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, and bronze statues had been removed last week for works.
Its 100-meter-long (330-foot) roof, of which a large section was consumed in the first hour of the blaze, was one of the oldest such structures in Paris, according to the cathedral’s website.
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“The worst has been avoided,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the scene shortly before midnight. Macron said France would launch a campaign to rebuild the cathedral, which is considered to be among the finest examples of French Gothic cathedral architecture, including fundraising efforts and by appealing to “talents” from overseas to contribute.
“We will rebuild it together. It will undoubtedly be part of French destiny and our project for the years to come,” a visibly moved Macron said.
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World leaders expressed shock and sent condolences to the French people.
US President Donald Trump expressed horror on Monday at the fire engulfing the historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. “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!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the cathedral a “symbol of France and our European culture.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the French people and emergency services fighting the “terrible blaze.”