Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral has been saved from “total destruction,” according to a French fire official, after a massive fire ripped through the structure on Monday and caused the roof and main spire to collapse.
The official estimated it could take up to seven hours from the initial outbreak to contain the fire, French24 television reported, but the official said the two iconic rectangular towers have now been saved. That news come as a relief after one of the towers caught fire earlier in the evening. Earlier, a French Interior Ministry official had said that firefighters might not be able to save the cathedral.
“The worst has been avoided, but the battle isn’t fully won yet,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement outside of the cathedral. He also expressed his sympathies to Catholics around the world, the people of Paris and the people of France. The fire broke out just days before Easter.
“We will rebuild the cathedral together,” Macron said, adding that France will start an international fundraising campaign to raise money for the renovations.
President Macron is treating the fire as a national emergency.
Residents living close to the cathedral were evacuated in case the building collapsed, said Paris Mayor Anne Hildago. The area surrounding the cathedral, Paris’ Ile de la Cite, was also evacuated, according to Reuters.
One fireman was “seriously injured,” an official said.
The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the fire soon after the damage begun. Late Monday, prosecutors said their preliminary findings suggested the huge fire was started accidentally.
Firefighters at the scene directed much of their efforts towards saving the artwork stored at the back of the cathedral, which had been undergoing renovations.
Luckily, 16 religious statues were removed from the cathedral for cleaning on Thursday — for the first time in over a century — and therefore escaped the fire.