The French president pledged to rebuild a cathedral that he called "a part of us" and appealed for help to do so. The 12th-century church is home to relics, stained glass and other incalculable works of art and is a leading tourist attraction, immortalized by
Despite the dramatic image of the flaming cathedral, no one was killed. One firefighter was injured, among some 400 who battled the flames for hours before finally extinguishing them. Firefighters continued working through the night to cool the building and secure the monument, as residual sparks sprinkled down from the gaping hole where the spire used to be.
The blaze started at
Nearby buildings were evacuated as fears mounted that the structure could collapse.
As the spire fell, the sky lit orange, acrid smoke rose in plumes and flames shot out the roof behind the nave. Hundreds of people lined bridges around the island that houses the church, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
The fire came less than a week before Easter amid Holy Week commemorations. As the cathedral burned, Parisians gathered spontaneously to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint-Julien-Les-Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame while the flames lit the sky behind them. Paris Archbishop
Nearing midnight, signs pointed to the fire nearing an end as lights could be seen through the windows moving around the front of the cathedral, apparently investigators inspecting the scene.
The city's mayor,
Experts say firefighters were left with devastatingly few options to save a structure that's more than 850 years old, built with heavy timber construction and soaring open spaces, and lacking sophisticated fire-protection systems.
"The worse has been avoided, although the battle is not yet totally won," the president said, adding that he would launch a national funding campaign on Tuesday and call on the world's "greatest talents" to help rebuild the monument.
"Notre Dame of
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine river, its architecture is famous for, among other things, its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses. Some 13 million people visit it every year.
Among the most celebrated artworks inside are its three stained-glass rose windows, placed high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral. Its priceless treasures also include a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is only occasionally displayed, including on Fridays during Lent.
"It's not one relic, not one piece of glass — it's the totality," said
Global reactions came swiftly including from