Spire of centuries-old landmark destroyed after flames burst through the roof
Thousands of Parisians watched in horror from behind police cordons as a ferocious blaze devastated Notre Dame Cathedral, destroying its spire and a large part of the roof.
Firefighters battled to contain the fire, which began at around 6pm on Monday. An investigation has been opened by the prosecutor’s office, but police said it began accidentally and may be linked to building work at the cathedral. The 850-year-old gothic masterpiece had been undergoing restoration work.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, attended the scene and later gave a speech in which he vowed that the cathedral would be rebuilt, as fire crews said the landmark’s rectangular bell towers and structure of the building had been saved.
Thousands of Parisians – many weeping and some praying – watched as vast orange flames soared from the roof for hours, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the western world. There were gasps on the southern bank of the river Seine as locals watched fire sweep across the roof, which slowly caved in.
“We consider the two towers of Notre Dame to have been saved,” the Paris fire-service commander Jean-Claude Galler said at around 11pm, as firefighters were still working to contain flames. The fire service said the fire had been reduced and it was a major accomplishment by hundreds of firefighters that the flames were stopped from spreading to the north tower belfry. However, the roof “had been ravaged”, with around two thirds destroyed.
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