• 73°

Massive fire engulfs beloved Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

By Lori Hinnant, Samuel Petrequin and Elaine Ganley

Associated Press

PARIS — A massive fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris’ soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

The blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its landmark rectangular towers, but Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church’s structure had been saved after firefighters managed to stop the fire spreading to the northern belfry.

The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The exact cause of the blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a $6.8 million renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead. The Paris prosecutors office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives and said it was treating it as an accident.

A hole left by the fallen spire was still burning and sparks rained down from the cathedral’s vaulted ceilings more than five hours after the fire broke out. Gallet said fire crews would keep working overnight to cool down the structure.

As the spire fell, the sky lit up orange and flames shot out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world. Hundreds of people lined up on bridges around the island that houses the church, watching in shock as acrid smoke rose in plumes.

Speaking alongside Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez late Monday, Gallet noted that “two thirds of the roofing has been ravaged.”

Late Monday, 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. Mayor Anne Hidalgo said most of the significant collection of artwork and holy objects inside the church had been recovered. Remarkably, only one of the about 400 firefighters who battled the blaze was injured, officials said.

The fire came less than a week before Easter amid Holy Week commemorations. As the cathedral burned, Parisians gathered to pray and sing hymns outside the church of St. Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame while the flames lit the sky behind them. Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers.

French President Emmanuel Macron was treating the fire as a national emergency, rushing to the scene and straight into meetings at the Paris police headquarters nearby. He pledged to rebuild the church and said he would seek international help to do so.

“The worst has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won,” Macron said, adding that he would launch a national funding campaign and call on the world’s “greatest talents” to help rebuild the monument.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages as well as one of the most beloved structures in the world. 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 iconic flying buttresses.

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.

French historian Camille Pascal told BFM broadcast channel the blaze marks “the destruction of invaluable heritage.”
“It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris,” Pascal said. “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame.”

He added: “We can be only horrified by what we see.”

Reactions from around the world came swiftly including from the Vatican, which released a statement expressing shock and sadness for the “terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”

In Washington, President Donald Trump tweeted: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris” and suggested first responders use “flying water tankers” to put it out.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said he was praying “to ask the intercession of Notre Dame, our Lady, for the Cathedral at the heart of Paris, and of civilization, now in flames! God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze.”

Comments

Education

Livingstone College celebrates federal recognition of Juneteenth

College

Wolfpack faces Stanford today in College World Series

Nation/World

Tropical weather lashes Gulf Coast with winds, rain

Nation/World

Girl attacked by bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

News

Cooper vetoes bill that would have allowed more to carry guns in churches

News

Two tubers remain missing after going over Dan River dam

Coronavirus

US reaches 300 million vaccine shots in 150 days

Crime

State suspends medical examiner after crash turns to homicide investigation

Crime

Blotter: June 17

Local

Dennis Rivers joins Salisbury Police Department in new homeless advocate position

Cleveland

Rockwell, Faith, Cleveland adopt 2021-22 budgets; East Spencer officials to receive budget next week

Sports

Brind’Amour gets contract extension with Hurricanes, wins coach of year honors

Local

West Rowan grad wins two national masonry competitions

Local

Quotes of the week

Education

Rowan, Kannapolis students below state average for federal aid applications

High School

High school baseball playoffs: Raiders roll past Oak Grove

News

3 dead, 2 still missing after tubers go over Dan River dam

Coronavirus

County, state officials work to increase vaccinations as concern over Delta variant grows

News

Cooper no fan of energy bill

Business

Hexagon Agility to expand Salisbury facility, invest $28 million, create 75 new jobs

Crime

Blotter: Two men rob convenience store at gunpoint

Business

Brewery, second-floor restaurant planned for downtown China Grove

Local

Sonny Allen, former mayor of Salisbury, dies at age 90

Education

RCCC names Student Excellence Award finalists