Paris fire services have extinguished a large fire which destroyed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral and its iconic spire. The fire started at 6.50pm local time yesterday (5.50 GMT), and raged overnight. Firemen were able to contain and extinguish the fire this morning. Much of the building has been lost, but firefighters were successful in saving the cathedral’s important contents.
Scenes from the outside Notre Dame cathedral revealed thick smoke and a column of flames.
As the fire leapt up the building, the Notre Dame spire – which was recreated in the 19th century – collapsed.
Photos showed the roof of the building was almost completely gone, and parts of the interior reduced to ash.
International leaders gathered to express their condolences for the monument, including European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker.
Talking from the European Parliament today, he said: “Yesterday was a terrible day for all those who love France and who love Paris.
“In all of our lives, Paris is not a neutral place.
“It is a place that we love falling in love with again.
“Seeing this city in the grip of a tragedy, which is not only architectural but touches the life of the French people, being destroyed by flames is heartbreaking.”
Officials have not determined the cause of the fire, but French media has linked it to recent renovations.
Parts of the cathedral have been wrapped in scaffolding as construction crews work to restore it.
The Paris Prosecutor’s office is now taking testimony from on-site construction workers.
In the meantime, police officials are treating the fire as an accident and said so far there is no evidence of terrorist motivation or arson.
Paris authorities have confirmed not all was lost in the fire.
Although the timber roof was destroyed, Notre Dame’s famous frontage and the two main bell towers survive.
The stunning South Rose window – which has before been fire damaged – was also spared from the worst of the flames.
One brave Paris Fire Brigade Chaplain ran into the building to save the important crown of thorns from the cathedral – a relic believed to have once been worn by Jesus Christ himself.