Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames early this morning, causing its roof and iconic spire to collapse.
The massive fire broke out on Monday night (local time) and spread rapidly as heartbroken Parisians and tourists looked on. Firefighters worked throughout the evening to try and preserve the two bell towers, which Paris fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters have been saved.
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019
“We now consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved,” he said, adding that firefighters would work through the night to cool down interior structures that are still at risk of collapse.
Gallet said one firefighter had been seriously injured in the blaze but so far no other casualties have been reported.
Priceless pieces from the cathedral’s collection of art and cultural artifacts, which include a crown of thorns believed by Catholics to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion, were reportedly saved by first responders and taken to a safe place.
Major art pieces and sacred items from the Notre Dame cathedral, including the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of Saint Louis, were saved from the fire, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a tweet https://t.co/iZpofWBEvu pic.twitter.com/VJ6OSEWJix
— CNN (@CNN) April 16, 2019
Built in the 12 and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is considered the most famous Gothic cathedral of the middle ages and is situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the River Seine that marks the very centre of Paris.
“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives,” said French president Emanuel Macron, as he addressed reporters outside the still burning structure.
“Let’s be proud, because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago, we’ve built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it.
“So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”
Notre-Dame is aflame. Great emotion for the whole nation. Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to the French people. Like all of my fellow citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight. https://t.co/27CrJgJkJb
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
The Paris prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the fire, but police sources said they were working on the assumption that it was an accident, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Featured image credit: AFP via France 24