Fire out, treasures intact but work ahead for Notre Dame
PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the fire that swept through Paris' Notre Dame cathedral (all times local):
Firefighters declared success Tuesday in a more than 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof, but spared its bell towers and the purported Crown of Christ.
What remained was a blackened shell of the monument immortalized in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," a building that had survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated amid renovation works at the start of Catholic Easter week.
Its iconic twin bell towers remained visibly intact. Paris officials said the world famous 18th century organ that boasts 8,000 pipes also appeared to have survived, along with other treasures inside the cathedral, after a plan to safeguard heritage was quickly put into action.
Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire described authorities' "enormous relief" at the salvaging of pieces such as the purported Crown of Christ, which were transported to a "secret location" after the fire. Statues removed just days ago for restoration work were also spared.
At dawn, the twin 69-meter towers swarmed with building specialists and architects.
"The entire fire is out," declared Paris firefighters' spokesman Gabriel Plus, adding that workers were "surveying the movement of structures and extinguishing smoldering residues."
"The task is — now the risk of fire has been put aside — about the building, how the structure will resist," said Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez in front of the cathedral.
One of the city's five senior vicars, Philippe Marsset, told AP: "If God intervened (in the blaze) it was in the courage of the firefighters."
"Notre Dame was destroyed but the soul of France was not," Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris, said on RMC radio.
Officials consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of the restoration work at the global architectural treasure.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the investigation would be "long and complex." Fifty investigators were working on the probe, he said, and would be interviewing workers from five companies hired to work on renovations to the cathedral's roof, where the flames first broke out.
Heitz said an initial fire alert was sounded at 6:20 p.m. Monday but no fire was found. The second alert was sounded at 6:43 p.m. and a blaze was discovered in the roofing at that point.
News that the fire was probably accidental has done nothing to ease the national mourning.
"Notre Dame has survived the revolutionary history of France, and this happened during building works," said influential former Culture Minister Jack Lang.
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the cathedral that he called "a part of us" and appealed for help to do so.
As France woke up in collective sadness, its richest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods group LVMH pledged 200 million euros ($226 million) for the reconstruction.
A communique said the Arnault family was "in solidarity with this national tragedy, and join in the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, a symbol of France, of its heritage and togetherness."
Businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Salma Hayek, and his billionaire father Francois Pinault also said they were immediately giving 100 million euros from their company, Artemis, to help finance repairs. Artemis is the holding company owning auction house Christie's and the main shareholder of luxury fashion houses including Gucci.
A statement from Francois-Henri Pinault said "this tragedy impacts all French people" and "everyone wants to restore life as quickly as possible to this jewel of our heritage."
The 12th-century church is home to a 18th-century organ, relics, stained glass and other works of art of incalculable value, and is a leading tourist attraction.
"The organ is a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes. It has not burnt, but no one can tell whether it has been damaged by water. Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored," Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told AP.
Repairing the cathedral — including the 800-year-old wooden beams that made up its roof — presents challenges.
The cathedral's roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century," he said, adding the roof restoration work would have to use new technologies.
Religious statues removed last week from the cathedral roof as part of a restoration of the monumental Paris church's towering spire were spared.
The 3-meter-tall copper figures, which looked over the city from Notre Dame's 96-meter-high peak, were sent to southwestern France for work that is part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the cathedral spire and its 250 tons of lead.
On Thursday, the public got a first ground-level look at the statues, representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists, when a huge crane lowered them onto a truck.
An outpouring of grief and offers of help have poured in from around the world.
Pope Francis prayed for French Catholics and the Parisian population "under the shock of the terrible fire." Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said on Twitter the pope "is close to France" and offering prayers "for all those who are trying to cope with this dramatic situation."
The Vatican's culture minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, described the cathedral as a "living creature" that has been reborn before and will continue to be the "beating heart" of France.
Ravasi, whose office oversees the patrimony of the Catholic Church worldwide, said he was moved by scenes of faithful and tourists weeping as Notre Dame went up in flames, and suggested art experts at the Vatican Museums could play a role in the rebuilding.
Germany and Poland were among countries offering assistance. "We are united in sorrow. Notre Dame is part of the cultural heritage of mankind and a symbol for Europe," German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass wrote on Twitter.
In Poland, where Warsaw and many other places were rebuilt from rubble after World War II, President Andrzej Duda offered experts in the reconstruction of historic buildings.
Egypt's top Muslim cleric expressed sadness, describing Notre Dame as a "historic architectural masterpiece." Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's seat of learning, wrote on Facebook: "Our hearts are with our brothers in France."
Egypt's Coptic Church expressed "profound sadness," with the head of Egypt's Copts, Pope Tawadroz II, describing the fire as a "huge loss for entire humanity."
France's culture minister says the "most precious treasures" of Paris' Notre Dame cathedral have been saved after a devastating fire, including the crown of thorns Catholic relic and the tunic of Saint Louis.
Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters outside Notre Dame that other works are being transferred from a storeroom in City Hall to the Louvre on Tuesday and Wednesday. There they will be dehumidified, protected and eventually restored.
He said that the cathedral's greatest paintings will be removed starting Friday. He said, "We assume they have not been damaged by the fire but there will eventually be damage from the smoke."
Monday's fire destroyed the cathedral roof and collapsed the spire.
The Paris prosecutor says there's no evidence of arson in the Notre Dame fire and that they're working on the assumption that the blaze was an accident.
Remy Heitz says the investigation will be "long and complex."
Speaking Tuesday, after the blaze was put out, he said five investigators are working on the probe. He says they will be interviewing workers from five companies that had been hired to work on renovations to the cathedral's roof, which was being repaired before the fire and which is where the flames first broke out.
People in the art world watched with shock and wept as a fierce fire ripped through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
One medieval art expert called the Gothic church built over centuries "one of the great monuments to the best of civilization."
Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval Cloisters branch in New York, said the flames were a reminder: "Civilization is just so fragile."
Her voice shook as she tried to put what Notre Dame means into words.
Others expressed fear for works of art inside the cathedral, including the famous stained-glass rose windows.
The fire chief in Paris said late Monday that hundreds of firefighters tackling the blaze saved Notre Dame by stopping the blaze before it could spread to the north belfry.
A hole left by Notre Dame's fallen spire is still burning and sparks are spilling down from the cathedral's vaulted ceilings more than five hours a fire broke out near the top of the Gothic landmark in Paris.
An Associated Press reporter entered the cathedral late Monday while French President Emmanuel Macron was visiting Notre Dame, getting a glimpse of the immense damage the blaze caused.
No lights were on, but the simmering red hole from the fallen spire provided illumination. Streams of sparks rained from the gap onto the floor where the church choir usually stands during services.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said earlier that most artworks and religious relics were removed from Notre Dame as firefighters worked to control the blaze.
France's culture minister posted photos on social media of people loading art onto trucks.
French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral and says he is seeking international help to restore the Paris landmark.
Macron said after the French capital's fire chief announced the emergency response had changed into a monitoring and mop-up operation, "The worst has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won."
Macron said a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched Tuesday and he called on the world's "greatest talents" to help.
The French leader credited the "courage" and "great professionalism" of firefighters with sparing Notre Dame's facade and two landmark towers from being destroyed.
The Paris prosecutors' office says investigators are treating the blaze that destroyed part of Notre Dame as an accident for now.
The prosecutors' office said late Monday they have ruled out arson in Monday's fire, including possible terror-related motives for starting the blaze.
Prosecutors say Paris police will conduct an investigation into "involuntary destruction caused by fire."
A French official and the Paris fire chief say they think Notre Dame Cathedral's landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.
Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said late Monday that authorities remain "prudent" but are "much more optimistic" than earlier in the night.
Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.
Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged." He says one firefighter was injured.
He says fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.
The mayor of Paris says people who live near Notre Dame Cathedral have been evacuated in preparation for the burning structure's possible collapse.
But Mayor Anne Hidalgo said late Monday that firefighters were optimistic they could keep the towers that bookend the famous cathedral from going up in flames.
The fire chief in Paris went even further, saying his crews managed to stop the flames from reaching the belfry and prevented a catastrophic collapse.
Gallet says one firefighter was injured.
Hildago says the significant collection art work and holy objects kept inside the church has been recovered.
Parisians have gathered to say prayers and sing hymns In front of the nearby Saint Julien Les Pauvres church as the massive blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral burns only a few hundred meters away.
Flames and smoke rose in the sky behind the singers. A couple hundred people kneeling in prayer at the center of a larger group, who are standing around the edge and joining in the hymns between the prayers.
Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit is inviting priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers for Notre Dame.
Aupetit is at the cathedral and will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron later Monday night.
An official from the French Interior Ministry says 400 firefighters are at the scene of the fire but might they not be able to save Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Laurent Nunez, speaking to reporters at the scene, says the devastating fire is not limited yet to a certain area and might continue to expand. He says cause of fire at the cathedral is unknown.
A group of Americans from Maine had just finished visiting Notre Dame Cathedral and were in a nearby park when they heard it was on fire.
Freeport resident Lucy Soule, 22, said it was "weird" having been in the church right before this happened. "Now you can smell it burning."
Soule and her father, Win Soule, 58, and Libby Heselton, 53, are on a weeklong trip to Paris where they planned to "see all the sights" and had just finished their visit to Notre Dame. They had been in the cathedral at 5:30 p.m., about an hour before the fire.
Win told The Associated Press "Now I feel sorry for the people tomorrow. They won't be able to see it."
He says "it's incredible. I'm not religious, but this is clearly very important to a lot of people."
The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at Notre Dame from spreading and causing more destruction.
Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled the blaze from both the exterior and interior: "We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry.
Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."
Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame's towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96-meters-high (315-feet.
The Vatican has issued a statement about the "terrible fire" that has "devastated" Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The Vatican said: "The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world."
The statement says the Vatican is praying for firefighters "and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation" on Monday.
It also expressed "our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris, and we assure our prayers for firefighters
French President Emmanuel Macron is treating the fire gutting Notre Dame Cathedral as a national emergency.
Macron reached the landmark cathedral on Monday evening and went straight into meetings at the nearby Paris police headquarters.
France's civil security agency says "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.
The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.
The mammoth fire that destroyed the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral has spread to one of the church's landmark rectangular towers.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene of Monday's fire in Paris watched the flames blazing behind an oblong stained-glass window in the tower.
Paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put the flames out while others work from the exterior. Red smoke is pouring out of the cathedral.
A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church's entire wooden interior was in flames.
French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived at Notre Dame.
French writer and historian Camille Pascal says a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has caused "the destruction of invaluable heritage" and "we can be only horrified by what we see."
Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV: "It's been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris" and its bells pealed for both "happy and unfortunate events."
He recalled that Notre Dame's bells sounded a death knell after the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.
Authorities are investigating if renovation work on the cathedral's fire was a factor in starting or spreading the fire.
On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the fire consuming Notre Dame Cathedral is taking part of everyone in France with it.
Macron tweeted after the blaze broke out in the cathedral's spire on Monday he was sad to see "a part of us being on fire."
He extended "thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French."
His administration says Macron is heading to Notre Dame.
The deputy mayor of Paris says Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered "colossal damages" from a fire that started in the spire and caused it to collapse.
Speaking to BFMTV, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said first responders now trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.
A cathedral spokesman has said the entire wooden interior of the Notre Dame is burning and likely to be destroyed.
The soaring spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman says the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark is burning and likely to be destroyed.
A massive fire engulfed the roof of the cathedral in the heart of the French capital on Monday afternoon as Parisians watched in horror.
Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: "Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame."
The cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
The cause of the blaze isn't yet known, but scaffolding could be seen on the roof of the burning structure. The spire was undergoing renovation.
A church spokesman has told French media that all of Notre Dame Cathedral's frame is burning after spire collapsed.
Police in Paris say the cause of the massive fire enveloping the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral isn't yet known.
The French capital's police department said no deaths have been reported from Monday's fire. The police department didn't say anything about injuries.
The peak of the 12th century cathedral is undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.
French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is "potentially linked" to the renovation work.
Located on the Ile de la Cite in the center of Paris, the Gothic cathedral is among the most famous from the Middle Ages and was built on the ruins of two earlier churches.
French President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a televised speech to the nation because of a massive fire enveloping the top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Flames are shooting out of the roof behind the nave of the 12th cathedral, one of the world's most visited landmarks.
The sight stopped pedestrians in their tracks along the Seine River, which passes under the cathedral.
Authorities said the fire could be linked to renovation work. It's unclear if anyone has been hurt in the fire.
Macron's pre-recorded speech was set to be aired later Monday on French TV. Macron was expected to lay out his plan to address the citizen complaints that gave rise to the yellow vest protests that have rocked France since November.
Posted: 12:29 p.m. on April 15, 2019
(CNN) -- The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames on Monday, police said, causing untold damage to the iconic building just days before Easter Sunday.
"Notre Dame Fire in progress," police said on Twitter. "Avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles and intervention of the @prefpolice."
Images and video showed flames and thick plumes of smoke billowing up and around the spire, which is surrounded by scaffolding. At the scene, the fire rapidly spread and took over the iconic cathedral as onlookers nearby scrambled in disbelief to get a view of the scene.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the fire brigade is trying to control a "terrible fire" that's broken out at Notre Dame Cathedral.
On Twitter, Hidalgo said: "A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire brigade are trying to control the fire. We are mobilized locally in close connection with church authorities. I ask everyone to respect the security perimeter."
The medieval cathedral was completed in the 13th century and today, with its towers, spire, flying buttresses and stained glass, is considered a feat of architecture as much as a religious symbol.
Located in Île de la Cité, a small island in the middle of the city, the cathedral is one of Paris' most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.
The fire comes just days before the Easter Sunday and the end of Lent.
It was not immediately known what caused the fire and whether anybody was injured.
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