Notre Dame, the famous and historic French Cathedral, is being gutted by fire. As prayers are offered for firefighters and those trying to save the priceless relics inside, the world can only watch as one of its treasures is destroyed.
Officials on the scene fear “nothing will remain.”
Update: Officials now say that the cathedral was saved from “total destruction,” thank God.
France 24 reported:
- The fire chief in Paris says it’s unclear if city firefighters will be able to save Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- The spire of the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral has collapsed as the wooden structure supporting the roof was ravaged by the blaze. Flames have spread to one of the cathedral’s two towers.
- The 12th century cathedral was in the midst of a massive 20-year renovation project.
- Due to the fire, President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a highly-anticipated TV address on the Yellow Vest crisis, and rushed to the scene.
- Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said that workers are scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved”.
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.
The Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus, and other relics including the linen tunic of Saint-Louis have been carried to safety.
The fire that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral has caused shock and sadness in the Holy See, the Vatican has said.
“The terrible news of the fire that has devastated the cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world, was received in the Holy See with shock and sadness,” Alessandro Gisotti said in a statement.
“We express our closeness to French Catholics and to the people of Paris and we assure our prayers for the fire fighters and all those who are doing everything possible deal with this dramatic situation,” he said.
The Sun reported:
France’s interior ministry said that firefighters may not be able to save the medieval building while Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot said: “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame.”
Emmanuel Gregoire, the deputy mayor of Paris, said the cathedral had suffered “colossal damages” and that emergency workers were trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored inside.
A cathedral spokesman said the entire wooden interior was burning and likely to be destroyed.
Scaffolding that had been set up around the building has been decimated along with large parts of the Cathedral itself, including the spire, which dates back to the mid-19th Century.
A “stray flame” linked to £5 million renovation work is thought to have sparked the inferno in the loft at around 5.30pm local time.
“It appears that it all began as a relatively small fire linked to a stray flame in the roof,” said an emergency services source.
“The fire was so high up that it was difficult to get to, meaning it soon spread across the roof, causing a terrible blaze.”
Police said no deaths have been reported although officials did not comment on injuries.
A fire department spokesman said the next 90 minutes are “crucial” in the fight to contain the rampaging inferno.
As the blazed raged, the Paris authorities admitted that getting fire fighters to the top of the building “was almost impossible.”
“It’s much too high up, and the only access is stone and spiral staircases – getting fire fighting crews up there is impossible,” said an emergency services source.
“This means that the fire has been able to spread across the roof, and it now threatening the two main Gothic towers.”
The source added: “We are not aware of any casualties, or of anyone being trapped, so there will be no emergency rescue plans being put into action.”
An emergency services source said that a water drop via plane or helicopter “was impossible” because the weight of the water dropped at low altitude would weaken the building and cause “extreme damage.”
“Everything is collapsing,” a cop near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.
Firefighters cleared the area around the cathedral, which marks the very centre of Paris, while nearby buildings around were evacuated.
“An evacuation is in progress,” said a police officer at the scene. “People are being advised to clear the area.”
Panicked locals have expressed their concern for the medieval cathedral on Twitter.
One witness wrote: “It’s getting worse. But the fire brigade has turned up. Hard to see how the tackle this. The plume of smoke is already 100s of feet long.”
The fire brigade can be seen in videos dousing the savage blaze with water.
French leader Emmanuel Macron, who postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the massive fire, has attended the scene.
This is terrible, just terrible.