Notre Dame cathedral structure saved from total destruction in huge blaze, fire chief says

'The structure of Our Lady is saved as a whole'

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Monday 15 April 2019 18:01 BST
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Paris fire department confident they can save Notre Dame from total destruction

Notre Dame – besieged by a huge, ruinous fire that triggered anguish around the world – has been been saved from total destruction, a French firefighting chief has revealed.

At the conclusion of a day in which people in Paris stood in horror as flames gripped the iconic 12th Century cathedral, destroying its spire and inflicting grave damage, officials said they have been able to save the structure of the building.

“We can consider that the two towers of the north belfry Notre-Dame have been saved,” the senior official, Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet, told reporters late on Monday. “The structure of Our Lady is saved as a whole.”

The effort to save the building – observed by Parisiens who both hugged each other and sang hymns as emergency crews worked – was not without cost; at least one firefighter was reported to have been hurt in the effort to prevent the cathedral being totally destroyed.

This sacrifice was recognised by Mr Gallet. “The work of firefighters has enabled us to stop the fire from spreading towards the northern belfry,” he said.

Junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said late on Monday that the authorities remained “prudent” but were “much more optimistic” than earlier in the night, according to the Associated Press, after fire took hold earlier in the afternoon.

As the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said people who lived near the cathedral had been evacuated in preparation for the burning structure’s possible collapse, she also revealed some of many artworks that were in the cathedral had been taken out and placed in safe storage. Meanwhile, Mr Gallet said the priority of firefighters was now to try and cool the structures.

Crowds gather and sing together as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris

“One sensitive point is the central scaffolding, which is going to require several hours before it can be cooled down completely,” he said.

“There is still a risk that this scaffolding could partially collapse but we can consider that the structure of Notre-Dame is saved and preserved in its entirety.”

As world leaders expressed shock and sent condolences to the French people, Emmanuel Macron, the nation’s president, said the entire country was distressed.

Ahead of delivering a televised speech, he tweeted: “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn.”

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