Paris firefighters have declared Notre Dame Cathedral saved late on Monday even as flames continued to burn in the wreckage of the Western cultural icon’s roof.
The huge blaze, that started a little over four hours earlier, destroyed the timber roof of the Gothic building and about two hours into the conflagration, the upper part of the 93-metre-high spire swayed and fell as flames shot up.
About 400 firefighters battled the fire, aiming jets of water at the 850-year-old cathedral as solemn crowds watched quietly from behind police cordons.
Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said that the structure of the cathedral had been “saved and preserved overall” and its bell towers, at one point thought to be at risk, were safe.
French media reported that the fire might have been linked to renovation work. The Paris prosecutor’s office said that “as matters stand” it was investigating a count of “involuntary destruction by fire”.
The cathedral’s most precious relics had been saved, rector Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said.
Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was completed in the mid-12th century, vandalised duing the French Revolution in the 1700s, featured as a central character in the 1831 Victor Hugo novel and survived the devastation of two world conflicts in the 20th century pic.twitter.com/ht8RCv9Xql— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 15, 2019
The cathedral was in the middle of a $6.8m renovation, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.
A church spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the 12th-century landmark was burning and likely to be destroyed.
Those living close to the cathedral have been evacuated in case of a possible collapse of the building, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.
Photo Credit: Reuters