Major fire guts Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
16 April 2019
A massive fire gutted the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, and brought down the spire and the entire roof of the Paris landmark. Firefighters barely managed to save the shell of the stone structure and its two main bell towers from collapse.
The fire that began early in the evening soon spread through the roof of the 12th century cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, and the entire roof came down, even as firefighters battled to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing. They tried to rescue some religious relics and priceless artwork.
While there was no human casualty, one firefighter was reportedly seriously injured.
A France 24 report said the “roof has entirely collapsed, there are flames coming out the back of the cathedral as if it was a torch”.
#NotreDame: ‘The roof has entirely collapsed, there are flames coming out the back of the cathedral as if it was a torch’@charli, Journalist at France 24, at the scene of the fire. pic.twitter.com/2B0IrMiDcL
“The worst has been avoided, even if the battle has not been totally won yet,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the scene shortly before midnight.
Macron said France would launch a campaign to rebuild the cathedral, including through 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.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year.
“A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter.
Notre-Dame, which sits on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris, was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.
French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted about the fire, calling it an emotional moment for the whole nation. “Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” he wrote.
Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give on Monday evening in a bid to answer a wave of street protests that has rocked his presidency.
Firefighters rescued some of Notre-Dame’s treasures, including the centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold and the tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France. Notre-Dame’s top administrative cleric, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said firefighters also struggled to take down some of the large paintings in time.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had launched an inquiry into the fire, although police sources said that for now they all assume the fire was accidental unless otherwise proved.