Notre Dame Fire Under Control, Hundreds Of Millions Pledeged To Restore Cathedral
The raging fire that tore through Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday evening has been declared "under control" this Tuesday morning after the blaze brought its towering spire and roof crashing to the ground, wiping out centuries of priceless heritage central to French culture and history.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral described as the soul of the nation and expressed relief via twitter last night that "the worst had been avoided" in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice.
Thousands of Parisians and tourists watched in horror from nearby streets cordoned off by the police as flames engulfed the building and officials tried to save as much as they could of the cathedral's countless treasures, built up over centuries.
This Tuesday morning, French magnate Arnault, LVMH pledged €200million towards the restoration of Notre-Dame.
This, following a pledge from France's billionaire Pinault dynasty of €100million for the reconstruction effort.
The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of smoke billowed into the evening sky.
Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours today that it was partially extinguished but completely under control, around nine hours after it broke out.
Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said "we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved" as well as the two bell towers.
However the whole of the roof has been devastated and a part of the vault has collapsed. The spire is no more.
Officials are due to meet this Tuesday to see if the building is stable enough to allow fire services to go inside.
Blaze being treated as an accident
The cause of the blaze is not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.
French prosecutors say it is currently being treated as an accident.
Historians have expressed dismay at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium.
Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire has told French media that workers are scrambling "to save all the artworks that can be saved."
Teams have reportedly managed to salvage an unknown quantity of the cultural treasures held within the cathedral.
The epicentre of our life
Meanwhile, President Macron cancelled a planned national policy speech on recent "Yellow Vest" protests and instead headed to the scene, where he vowed the cathedral would be reborn.
"We will rebuild Notre-Dame because it is what the French expect," he said, describing Notre Dame as "the epicentre of our life" and the cathedral of "all the French", whether religious or not.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a "symbol of European culture" as the blaze raged.
The Vatican has expressed its "incredulity" and "sadness" over the blaze.
Water bombers not used
According to the Paris Fire Brigade, one firefighter was injured in the blaze.
The injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
US President Donald Trump in a tweet said it was "horrible" to watch the fire but caused controversy by offering advice on how to put it out.
"Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!" he said.
But France's civil security service, which oversees crisis management in the country, tweeted back at Trump that the use of water-bombing aircraft was not being considered as it could have led to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.
Paris will never be the same
Notre Dame cathedral is located at the very centre of the French capital and its construction was completed in the mid-12th century after some 200 years of work.
During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalised in widespread anti-clerical violence: its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed.
It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.