Notre Dame fire: What we know
- A major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday.
- The cathedral, which was undergoing renovations, suffered extensive damage.
- Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire.
- No deaths have been reported.
- Notre Dame construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.
The iconic spire at the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has collapsed after a major fire broke out Monday. Video showed part of the roof of the cathedral collapsing into itself as the fire rages on.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told French media, according to the Associated Press. By Monday evening, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters he believes firefighters have managed to save the cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers from the blaze.
Gallet said, “We now believe that the two towers of Notre Dame have been saved,” Reuters news agency reported. “We now consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved.” There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, he said.
A deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered “colossal damages.” President Emmanuel Macron came to the scene to view the damage and meet with emergency officials.
The Sécurité Civile of France, part of the French Ministry of Interior, said hundreds of members of the Paris Fire Brigade were doing everything possible to get the fire under control and save the historic structure. The agency said in a tweet, “all means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.”
French President Emmanuel Macron: “We will rebuild.”
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday night. Macron called the fire a “terrible tragedy” and confirmed that the cathedral’s stone facade and two main towers avoided collapsing during the destruction.
“I’m telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders,” Macron said.
Fire a “tragedy for the world”
Christophe Girard, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture, said the massive fire at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral is a “tragedy for the world.” He spoke with CBSN as the fire continued to burn, and said that some priceless paintings and other artifacts have been saved.
Dramatic photos of fire’s destruction
Dramatic videos and photos spread across social media on Monday showing the roof and spire of the nearly 900-year-old cathedral engulfed in flames and massive amounts of smoke billowing up from its roof.
The spire and roof collapsed, and the cathedral’s world-famous stained glass windows were destroyed.
The Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine where the cathedral is located, was evacuated. Thousands of onlookers gathered along the banks of the river to watch the awful scene.
Priceless art and artifacts inside
Some of the treasures inside Notre Dame were reported saved, although officials have yet to release a full inventory of what was saved from the fire and what was lost. A centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold, and the tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France, were safely retrieved, Notre Dame’s top administrative cleric, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said, according to Reuters. But firefighters had struggled to take down some of the cathedral’s large paintings in time, he said.
Cause under investigation
Authorities have not yet released any information on the cause of the fire and said it would be investigated. The fire may potentially involve renovation work that was being carried out at the site, the fire service said. Extensive scaffolding covered a portion of the roof as part of the $6.8 million project before the fire broke out.
Vatican expresses “great shock and sadness”
The Vatican expressed “great shock and sadness” about the fire at Notre Dame, which occurred during Holy Week leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It called the cathedral “a symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
In a statement, the Vatican said, “We express closeness to the French Catholics and the people of Paris and we assure our prayers for the firefighters and those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”
President Trump: “It’s part of our culture”
President Trump commented on the fire Monday afternoon as he attended a roundtable conference in Minnesota. He called it “a terrible sight to behold.”
“It’s one of the great treasures of the world,” he said. “It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our lives. That is a truly great cathedral and I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, and there is… no cathedral in the world like it. It is a terrible scene.”
The president added, “It looks like it’s burning to the ground.”
Former President Obama on mourning and rebuilding
Former President Barack Obama posted a photo of his family visiting Notre Dame along with a message that said, “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”
Notre Dame Cathedral’s epic history
Notre Dame was constructed in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a worldwide Parisian icon and the location of some of the most important moments in the history of France. Henry VI of England was crowned inside the cathedral in 1431 and Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France inside the cathedral in 1804.
The cathedral receives 12 to 13 million visitors a year and is home to countless paintings, sculptures and other priceless works of art. It had been undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.
James Shepherd, director of preservation and facilities at the Washington National Cathedral, spoke with CBSN on Monday about Notre Dame’s epic history.
“That’s 800 years of history of people pilgrimaging there, and worshiping there, and the accumulation of culture,” Shepherd said by phone. “All of that will have to be taken into consideration as they try to repair this church and save it after this devastating fire.”
Shepherd spoke of Notre Dame’s “stunning and exclusive stained-glass windows,” which appear to have been destroyed in the fire. He called them “absolutely priceless and some of the best examples of European stained-glass windows.”
“This is a culturally devastating moment for the city of Paris, the country and the world,” Shepherd said.