WATCH

Macron Vows to Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral After Devastating Fire

Fire chief says blaze controlled in the Parisian landmark ■ One firefighter seriously injured

Sparks fill the air as Paris Fire brigade members spray water to extinguish flames as the Notre Dame Cathedral burns in Paris, France, April 15, 2019.
\ PHILIPPE WOJAZER/ REUTERS

Macron vowed to rebuild after Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, one of France's most visited places. Tuesday morning, firefighters said they gained control over the fire and saved the shell of the stone structure from collapse. 

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

As it burned into the evening, firefighters battled to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing. One firefighter was seriously injured - the only reported casualty.

"We now believe that the two towers of Notre-Dame have been saved," Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters at the scene. "We now consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved." 

The steeple of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral collapses as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris on April 15, 2019
AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron watches as the iconic cathedral goes up in flames, Paris, France, April 15, 2019.
\ PHILIPPE WOJAZER/ REUTERS

There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, and firefighters would work overnight to cool them down, he said.

A centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold and the tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France, were saved, Notre-Dame's top administrative cleric, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said. But firefighters had struggled to take down some of the large paintings in time, he said.

Parisians watching from the other side of the River Seine gasped as the spire folded over onto itself and fell into the inferno. 

The cathedral is currently undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project. 

People watch as smoke billows from Notre Dame, April 15, 2019.
AFP

Police say the cause of the massive fire Notre Dame Cathedral isn't yet known.

Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled the blaze from both the exterior and interior: "We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry.

Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."

French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived to the scene after the fire broke out, says the fire consuming Notre Dame Cathedral is taking part of all of France's people with it. Macron tweeted after the blaze broke out in the cathedral's spire on Monday he was sad "to see "a part of us being on fire."

The restoration of Notre-Dame before it caught fire, Paris, France, March 27, 2019.
AFP
People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, April 15, 2019.
Thibault Camus,AP

He extended "thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French." His administration says Macron was heading to Notre Dame.

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.

France's civil security agency says "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze. The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.

The Paris prosecutor's office said it had launched an inquiry into the fire. Several police sources said that they were working on the assumption for now that it was accidental. 

Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: "Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame."

Firefighters cleared the area around the cathedral, which marks the very centre of Paris. Buildings around were evacuated. 

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin extended sympathy to France, tweeting," Our hearts are with the people of #France and the legends of @notredameparis, real and fictional, and we pray it will stand in eternity."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says firefighters are trying to contain a "terrible fire" at the city's Notre Cathedral.

Hidalgo urged residents of the French capital to stay away from the security perimeter around the Gothic-style church. The mayor says city officials are in touch with Roman Catholic diocese in Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze.

Built over a century starting in 1163, Notre-Dame is considered to be among the finest examples of French Gothic cathedral architecture.