International desk – The firefighters needed 15 hours to completely douse the flame that destroyed parts of the iconic Notre-dame cathedral in the French capital Paris, media reports said.
The fire that broke out Monday evening ravaged the 850 years old building’s roof and caused its spire to collapse. Hundreds of people gathered outside the security cordon and saw the devastation. The cause of the fire could not be determined, but an investigation launched to find the reason.
People from across the world offered help to rebuild the medieval cathedral after French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to reconstruct the iconic site, frequented by more than 11 million people a year.
BBC reported that the firefighters who worked through the night managed to save the Paris landmark’s main stone structure, including its two towers.
Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz said his office was “favouring the theory of an accident”, but had assigned 50 people to work on what he believed would be a “long” and “complex” investigation.
For centuries the building has been considered the heart of Catholic life in France, a site of pilgrimage for people around the world and home to many priceless religious relics.
Macron vowed to reconstruct the historic building. Two French business magnates had pledged about 300 million Euros between them by early Tuesday, the broadcaster reported.
Offers of help with the reconstruction have also poured in from around the globe, with European Council President Donald Tusk calling on EU member states to rally round, it added.
London telegraph reported that the Paris prosecutor’s office said it was treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now.
The fire began around 6.50 pm local time.
“I was not far away, I saw the smoke. At first I thought it was the Hotel-Dieu (hospital) but then I realised it was the cathedral. When I arrived, ash was beginning to fall,” said Olivier De Chalus, head volunteer guide of the cathedral, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
No one was killed in the devastating fire but one firefighter was injured, among some 400 who battled the flames for hours before finally extinguishing them.
The cathedral’s spire – one of Paris’s most famous landmarks at 93 metres high – collapsed.
The newspaper reported that within a few hours, a large part of the roof had been reduced to ashes.
The fire affected two-thirds of the roof, which has collapsed, as well as the spire, said Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet.
He added that the operation was focused on preserving the rear of the cathedral where the most valuable works are located.
The flames devoured the roof’s wooden frame, which is more than 100 metres in length and nicknamed “the forest”.
Firefighters worked overnight to cool the building and secure the monument, as residual sparks sprinkled down from the gaping hole where the spire used to be.
Many of the cathedral’s priceless artefacts and objects of huge cultural and historical significance were also rescued.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo confirmed several of the most sacred had been saved.