Fire breaks out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

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UPDATE (AP) — 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.

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PARIS (CNN) – The spire atop the iconic Notre Dame cathedral collapsed amid a devastating fire at the Paris cathedral on Monday, just days before Easter Sunday.

Here’s what we know about the blaze:

  • The spire was destroyed: Large parts of the roof already appear to have been burned, CNN’s Melissa Bell, who is in Paris, reported. The spire also collapsed during the fire.
  • Firefighters tackled large flames: At least seven firetrucks were trying to tackle the flames, she said. The smell of smoke was emanating through the air and embers were falling from the sky.
  • Cause unknown: The cause of the fire is still unclear.
  • Police kept people away: Police urged everyone to avoid the area, and emergency services pushed people away from the scene.

Images and video showed flames and thick plumes of smoke billowing up and around the spire, which is surrounded by scaffolding. Video from the scene showed the flaming spire lean to one side and then collapse amid the smoke.

Fire rages at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

The fire rapidly spread and took over the iconic cathedral as onlookers nearby scrambled in disbelief to get a view. Seven or eight firetrucks were trying to tackle the flames and the smell of smoke emanated through the air.

The firetrucks were having difficulty getting to the scene amid the daily afternoon rush hour. Police said on Twitter the public should avoid the area and allow emergency vehicles into the scene.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said 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.

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.

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.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said exceptional measures are being taken to try to save the Notre Dame cathedral.

“Support and solidarity with @PompiersParis (fire brigade) mobilized to save our common heritage, in the heart of Paris. An exceptional force was deployed by the @prefpolice (Paris police) to neutralize this violent fire. I share the immense emotion of the Parisians,” Castaner tweeted.

Former French President François Hollande ‏also said on Twitter, “Notre Dame is our common heritage. It’s a wound to see it devastated by flames. Respects to the firemen trying to extinguish the fire.”

Fire rages at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

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.

It was not immediately known what caused the fire and whether anybody was injured.

The cathedral has been surrounded by scaffolding and was under construction, as the below photo from last Thursday shows.

French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a planned speech Monday night because of the Notre Dame fire, a spokesperson for the Elysee Palace says.

Macron tweeted about the Notre Dame fire, saying that he was “sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

“Notre Dame of Paris in flames. Emotion for a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” he said.

Notre Dame’s foundation stone was laid in 1163 by Pope Alexander III, and the cathedral was completed in the 13th century. Today, with its towers, spire, flying buttresses and stained glass, Notre Dame is considered a feat of architecture as well as a major religious and cultural symbol of France.

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 central spire was built in the 19th century amid a broad restoration effort, partly buoyed by the success of Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” in 1831.

French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a planned speech Monday night because of the Notre Dame fire, a spokesperson for the Elysee Palace said.

“Notre Dame of Paris in flames. Emotion for a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” Macron said on Twitter.

Macron arrived at the scene, accompanied by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and first lady Brigitte Macron, as well as the Paris prosecutor, who has opened an investigation into the fire.

US President Donald Trump said it was a “terrible, terrible fire” and lamented the damage done to the historic cathedral.

“That’s beyond countries, that’s beyond anything,” he said. “It’s a part of our culture.”

Associated Press

Associated Press

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