The structure of the Notre Dame Cathedral has been saved from a massive fire that had threatened to gut the 800-year-old beloved landmark, fire officials said late Monday.
“The worst has been avoided, although the battle is not yet totally won,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who had rushed to the scene. Macron pledged to rebuild the church and said a national fundraising campaign would be launched Tuesday.
The blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its rectangular towers. But Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church’s main structure had been saved after firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to the northern belfry. Gallet said the emergency response had evolved into a monitoring and clean-up operation.
The damage, however, was extensive. “Two-thirds of the roofing has been ravaged,” and firefighters would work through the night to cool down the building, Gallet said.
It was a dramatic shift from earlier in the day when officials predicted the structure would burn to the ground.
“Everything is burning. Nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot had told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”