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Paris: Notre-Dame Cathedral Burns, Charred Timbers of Medieval Spire Collapse

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OLIVER JJ LANE

A major fire has engulfed the famed Medieval Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris, destroying the ancient timber roof, bringing down the central spire, and threatening the bell towers.

The cathedral was in the process of a period of restoration, and in the past couple of days has had sixteen bronze statues removed from the roof area in recent days to facilitate work. The fire appears to have started in the roof where work is taking place.

This livewire has now closed. Get the latest at Breitbart London.

UPDATE 1200 — Treasures saved by hero chaplain

Treasures including the crown of thorns relic and important works of art were saves thanks in part, at least, to the work of the chaplain of the Parisian fire brigade. Get more on this at Breitbart London:

UPDATE 0900 — Fire totally extinguished

Finally, and nearly 15 hours after the fire began, all flames have now been put out. Speaking at just before 0900 BST, Paris’s fire department confirmed “the whole fire is extinguished”, reports Le Parisien.

Now the recovery begins.

A selection of the latest pictures from Paris Tuesday morning as the fire was put out for good:

Firefighters spray water as they work to extinguish a fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. – A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is “under control”, the Paris fire brigade said early on April 16 after firefighters spent hours battling the flames. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

A picture shows Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. – Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists — some crying, others offering prayers — watched in horror in central Paris on April 15 night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Firefighters secure Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. – Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists — some crying, others offering prayers — watched in horror in central Paris on April 15 night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

Firefighters secure Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. – Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists — some crying, others offering prayers — watched in horror in central Paris on April 15 night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Firefighters secure Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. – Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists — some crying, others offering prayers — watched in horror in central Paris on April 15 night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

UPDATE 0337 — Some social media users mock and laugh at the tragedy

Breitbart London’s Chris Tomlinson reports on some social media users mocking the tragedy:

Social media has seen a variety of reactions following the tragic fire at Paris’ iconic Notre-Dame cathedral Monday, but some users chose to mock and laugh at those expressing sorrow.

Several accounts on Twitter expressed mockery over the loss of the 850 plus year-old cathedral, which has become an icon of the city of Paris since the Medieval era.

Twitter user @SarahSahim, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, Teen Vogue and the Independent newspaper wrote, “Notre-Dame burning is cosmic karma for all the historical sites and artefacts France destroyed and stole when being colonialist scum.”

Read the rest here.

UPDATE 0319 — Devastated art world wept and watched as Notre-Dame burned

(AP) — Notre Dame, a survivor of wars and revolutions, has stood for centuries as not merely the greatest of the Gothic cathedrals and a towering jewel of Western architecture.

It has stood, in the words of one shell-shocked art expert, as “one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”

And so it was that across the globe Monday, a stunned and helpless art world wept alongside the people of France as a massive fire ravaged the beloved cathedral.

“Civilization is just so fragile,” said Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters branch in New York, her voice shaking as she tried to put into words what the cathedral meant. “This great hulking monument of stone has been there since 1163. It’s come through so many trials.”

“It’s not one relic, not one piece of glass — it’s the totality,” she said, struggling to find words expansive enough to describe the cathedral’s significance. “It’s the very soul of Paris, but it’s not just for French people. For all humanity, it’s one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”

An aerial photo of Notre-Dame, taken on July 20, 2010. (BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

More on the art world reaction, including photos of Notre-Dame’s artistry throughout the ages, read here.

UPDATE 0242 — “The fire is completely under control”

(AFP) — A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is “under control”, the Paris fire brigade said early Tuesday after firefighters spent hours battling the flames.

“The fire is completely under control. It is partially extinguished, there are residual fires to put out,” said spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus.

UPDATE 0120 — Photos from inside the fire-damaged cathedral
Some photos of the cathedral’s interior show it is damaged, but not destroyed.

A view from inside Notre Dame cathedral during the fire in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Flames and smoke rise from the interior of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, after a fire engulfed the building. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke rises in front of the altar cross at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

A closer image of the altar in the fire-damaged interior of Notre-Dame cathedral, as the fire continues to burn on April 16, 2019. (PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke rises near the towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris as firefighters work to put out a fire early on April 16, 2019. The main structure of Notre-Dame cathedral has been saved after hours of fire-fighting to put out a devastating blaze, the city’s top fire official said late on April 15. (ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters battle the fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral on April 15, 2019. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

A Reuters diagram shows the areas of the cathedral damaged by the fire:

UPDATE 0057 — Vatican statement on the fire at Notre-Dame — ‘a symbol of Christianity’

Breitbart’s Tom Williams reports on the message sent by the Vatican concerning the fire at Notre-Dame:

“With shock and sadness, the Holy See received the news of the terrible fire that devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and the world,” reads the communiqué, which the Vatican made available to Breitbart News.

“We extend our closeness to French Catholics and to the people of Paris and ensure our prayers for the firefighters and those who are doing all they can to deal with this tragic situation,” the Vatican said.

Read the rest here.

UPDATE 0050 — Prayers and support from around the world

(AP) — The world reacted with shock, horror and prayers to the massive fire Monday at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, united in grief and in solidarity with the people of France.

As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.

The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”

French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters near the scene that he will seek international help, including the “greatest talents” in the world, to rebuild Notre Dame.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at the start of an appearance in Minnesota, spoke of the “terrible, terrible fire” that devastated “one of the great treasures of the world.”

“It’s a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives,” Trump said of the landmark.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, drawing some 13 million people each year. The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from all over described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.

AFP

People kneel on the pavement as they pray outside watching flames engulf Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.  The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in sheer horror. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.

“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said on Twitter.

The Vatican said Pope Francis “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.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for intercession.

“God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze,” Dolan said in a statement.

Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam, remembered spending hours at the cathedral in his first visit, in 1991, with record executive Michael Goldstone.

“Thinking about Paris,” Ament tweeted, with photos of the cathedral.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he’s “horrified,” calling the cathedral “a unique example of world heritage.”

In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Hieromonk Stefan called the fire “a tragedy for the entire Christian world and for all who appreciate the cultural significance of this temple,” the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported:

On Twitter, Trump suggested using planes to drop water on the flames. France’s Civil Security agency said that wasn’t feasible.

“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,” the agency tweeted.

The Associated Press

People in Paris pray as Notre-Dame cathedral burns, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

People kneel in prayer, watching the flames engulf Notre-Dame cathedral. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

(ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE 0040 — The “soul of the French nation”

(AFP) — “The soul of the French nation is disappearing, the very heart of Paris and France were wounded today,” added Stephane Bern, a journalist who has long campaigned for the defence of the country’s cultural heritage.

Notre-Dame cathedral, circa 1850, drawn and engraved by Deroy. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

For more about the history of the cathedral, including historic photos through the years, read here.

UPDATE 2224 — Macron promises to rebuild

(AP) — 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.

UPDATE 2217 — French prosecutors treating the fire as an accident

(AP) — 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.”

UPDATE 2205 — Structure saved 

Some glimmers of hope this evening — Le Figaro reports the comments of Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior Laurent Nunez, who says the structure of the Cathedral has been saved, despite having lost the roof. And that is to say nothing of the interior.

Nunez said: “The fire has gone down in terms of intensity, so we think that the structure of Notre-Dame is saved, especially the north belfry.”

The structure of Our Lady of Paris “is saved and preserved in its entirety,” fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said, noting that two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed. However, the Cathedral’s rectangular towers have been saved.

Gallet said that firefighters were able to save the structure by stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.

The fire chief noted that one firefighter was injured and that fire crews will continue their work through the night to cool down the structure.

UPDATE 2200 — Worshippers sing as Cathedral burns

Hundreds, if not thousands of the faithful gathered around the Cathedral to pray and sing songs of worship. Our full report on that:

The Associated Press reports that Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit has encouraged priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers.

And claims that the major artefacts and works of art were saved from the Cathedral from French media:

UPDATE 2140 — The arbiters of truth

A peculiar twist on the other side of the Atlantic, as Youtube flagged a video of the Notre-Dame fire as conspiracy theory content. Another great success for the impartial internet police:

UPDATE 2130 — Macron visits the scene

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe react as they watch the fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral as its burns in Paris on April 15, 2019. PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images

French president Emmanuel Macron arrived at the scene of the fire earlier this evening alongside prime minister Edouard Philippe and culture minister Franck Riester, where they are had discussions with emergency services leaders.

Earlier, Presiden Macron tweeted: “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

Other religious and political leaders, including U.S. Vice President Donald Trump, also took to social media to express their condolences and sense of loss over the destruction of such a priceless cultural heirloom and symbol of the Christian faith.

British prime minister Theresa May has also responded to the unfolding tragedy, with the characteristic warmth and strength of feeling for which she is so well known:

UPDATE 2100 — PICTURES: Night falls on Paris

The Paris skyline is backlit by fire this evening, after a fire that broke out on the roof of the city’s famous cathedral in the late afternoon spread out of control. After collapsing the nave roof and central spire, flames appeared to spread to one of the rectangular bell towers that face onto the great square before the Medieval building.

Despite an enormous effort to save the building, the Associated Press reports that the Paris fire brigade has said they may be unable to save the building at all.

Some pictures as evening closes in on a traumatic day for Paris:

Firefighters douse flames rising from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A major fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky, the fire service said. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year, where renovations are currently underway. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE 2045 — PICTURES: Parisians look on

A man watches the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn, engulfed in flames, in central Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

A couple watch as smoke and flames engulf the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

A couple watch as smoke and flames engulf the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

A man reacts as he watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

A man reacts as he watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) 

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) 

UPDATE 2035 — “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame”

A Notre-Dame spokesman has said they expect for the roof to be a total loss. Flames were seen rising inside the belltowers after the collapse of the spire

Read more in Breitbart London’s article on the cathedral spokesman’s comments:

UPDATE 2025 — What is being lost? 

As U.S. VP Mike Pence notes, Notre Dame is an “iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world” — it is also a core element of the self-identity of Paris. To counter the images of the Cathedral being destroyed, some images of it in the recent past:

People take part in the Nautic Paddle Race on the Seine river near Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, on December 9 2018. – About 800 competitors took part in the 11 kilometer race on the Seine River. (Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

People visit the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris on June 26, 2018. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

This photograph taken on June 26, 2018, shows the transcept of Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

A pedestrian carries a dog while walking in the snow in front of The Notre-dame Cathedral in Paris on February 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Philippe LOPEZ

 

“What is civilisation? I don’t know. I can’t define it in abstract terms, yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it.” Turning to Notre Dame, Clarke added: “And I’m looking at it now.”

Posted by Architectural Revival on Monday, 15 April 2019

And now some historic images. This, from the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation during the Second World War in 1944:

(FILES) This file picture taken on August 25, 1944 shows people gathering around a tank from French General Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division near Notre-Dame in Paris. The 65th anniversary of the liberation of Paris will be celebrated tomorrow. AFP PHOTO (Photo by STF / AFP FILES / AFP)

Paris in the Spring-Time:

Parisian people enjoy fishing on the banks of the Seine river, near the Ile de la Cité in Paris on the first sunday of the 1947 spring on March 23, 1947. (Photo by – / AFP)

 

UPDATE 2000 — Parisian Island home of Notre-Dame evacuated as fire burns

Le Parisien reports the Ile de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine within the city of Paris, is to be evacuated with emergency shelters being opened in Paris to take in some 1,000 people who inhabit the island.

Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. – A major fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky, the fire service said. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year, where renovations are currently underway. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE 1945 — A history of roof fires

The apparent circumstance of the blaze which is slowly destroying the in parts 13th-century roof of the Paris Notre-Dame Cathedral bears superficial similarities to the partial destruction of the Basilica of St. Donatian and St. Rogatian in Nantes, France. Workmen were engaging in weatherproofing work on the roof when the equipment they were using caused the timbers of the roof to burn.

As mentioned in update 1855, restoration work can be an extremely vulnerable time for historic buildings, as ancient timbers come into close proximity to power tools, work lights, chemicals, and other potential sources of ignition.

THIS PHOTOGRAPH FROM 2015:

Firefighters works after a spectacular blaze that ravaged the roof of a 19th century basilica in Nantes, western France on june 15, 2015. The fire in Nantes is “probably linked to waterproofing work that was taking place on the roof,” said the city’s chief fire officer, who added the blaze had been “contained” by mid-morning. The back part of the basilica has been seriously damaged and some of the wooden beams have given way, authorities said. AFP PHOTO / GEORGES GOBET

A report by France3 from earlier this year revealed that while significant work was ongoing at the burnt church, with 30 stonemasons on site, there were still two years of works to go before the church could reopen.

Given the size and historic importance of Notre-Dame, it could be a decade or more before rebuilding work is completed, assuming increasingly secular France decides to embark upon that project. Notre-Dame took almost two centuries to build, in several stages.

A 54-year-old Parisian told French newspaper Le Parisien: “It’s a disaster but we will fix it,… We do not have a choice. We are in Easter week. At the end, there will be a resurrection.”

UPDATE 1930 — “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week”

Conservative MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Debout La France party, reacted with shock to the fire writing, ” see the flames and the thick smoke above Paris, I have tears in my eyes.”

The outspoken critic of mass migration, who ran as the Prime Minister candidate for populist Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election second round in 2017, added, “The soul of France bleeds at the beginning of Holy Week. Nearly 1000 years of our civilization is being consumed before our eyes.”

AFP

notre dame

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

People watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burning in central Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burning in central Paris on April 15, 2019. – A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019,  (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP) 

UPDATE 1915 — Roof over the nave has totally burnt away

This dramatic image shows the eastern end of the Cathedral, which has now totally lost its roof:

notre dame

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

The image is a stark contrast with a similar view of the same end of the church less than an hour ago:

notre dame

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

The fire may now threaten the integrity of the cathedral’s famous rose window:

TOPSHOT - Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe. (Photo by Patrick ANIDJAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read PATRICK ANIDJAR/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe. (Photo by Patrick ANIDJAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read PATRICK ANIDJAR/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE 1905 — The spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral has collapsed

Eyewitnesses to the huge fire engulfing Nore-Dame recorded the moment the central spire collapsed. The fire has now spread to the bell towers:

The splintered remains of the spire can be seen in this Getty image:

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. - A major fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky, the fire service said. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year, where renovations are currently underway. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. -FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE 1855 — Fire may have started during restoration work

Until Monday’s fire, Notre-Dame Cathedral was undergoing major restoration work. France’s AFP reported three days ago:

Sixteen bronze statues briefly took to the skies over Paris after they were removed from the Notre-Dame cathedral to undergo restoration work.

Tourists at the world-famous landmark were left stunned on Thursday as the statues — representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament — were lifted off the spire of the cathedral by crane.

“What’s unique is that it’s the first time we’ve seen them up close since they were set up by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1860s,” Marie-Helene Didier, who is in charge of the renovation work, told AFP.

Its spire, like the rest of the gothic edifice, is undergoing a 11-million-euro ($12.4-million) overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted by time, pollution and the weather.

“Extraordinary,” said Sofiane, an onlooker from London, as the statues flew through piercing blue skies suspended from a giant 100-metre (300-foot) crane. “I’ll never see anything like it again.”

The statues will be put on display inside the cathedral and will travel two-by-two to a specialised restorer in the Dordogne area of southwest France.

Once all have been renovated, they will be put back to their position staring out over the City of Light in 2022.

The spire mentioned in the report now appears to be a complete loss, and firefighters at the scene say part of the roof has now collapsed.

Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame de Paris, on the bank of the Seine river, dates back to the 12th century and is one of the major landmarks of Paris is recognised by its flying buttresses and its large, round north rose window. The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.

The Associated Press

Fire torches top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris / AP IMAGES

Images taken by press photographers from the roof of the church just last week show the significant extent of the restoration work taking place on the nearly 700-year old structure. Scaffolding can be seen spanning the roof in preparation for the removal of 16 copper statues of the Apostles ahead of their restoration. The statues were ‘flown’ out through the use of straps and a crane on Friday.

Firefighters believe the blaze is “potentially linked” to the renovation work of the building, reports Le Figaro.

A crane lifts one of 16 copper statues, sitting 50 meters above the ground, off the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral to be taken for restoration on April 11, 2019 in the French capital Paris. – Using a 120 meter crane at the foot of the cathedral, the sixteen statues, the 12 apostles and the 4 evangelists, which sit around the spire of the cathedral are being removed to be sent to Perigueux, in southwest France for restoration.  BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

Restoration work can be a particularly vulnerable time for historic buildings when power tools and other potential sources of combustion come into close contact with dry timbers and other building materials. The United Kingdom suffered the near total loss of a significant historic building, but on a smaller scale, in 2017 when the building thought to be the oldest hotel in the country — and one of the oldest in the world — burnt down during building work taking place on another historic building next door, which spread.

UPDATE 1845 — President Trump calls on French authorities to “act quickly” to save historic treasure

The world watches on as one of the most important buildings in Western Christianity burns, including U.S. President Donald Trump who has suggested a major intervention to quell the flames. He took to Twitter to write: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

A police force commander told a Le Figaro reporter on the scene that the fire “will burn a long time.”

Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has spoken out: “A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire brigade is trying to control the flames. We are mobilised on site in close connection with the Diocese of Paris. I invite each and everyone to respect the perimeter of security.”

Smokes ascends as flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE 1840 — Videos from the scene

Footage of the fire, which is now consuming the historic central spire of the Cathedral, is spreading on social media:

Flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

This story is developing, more follows.

The Associated Press and AFP contributed to this report. 

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