Paris Police: Notre Dame Fire Under Control, Spire is Lost, Bell Towers Saved

April 15, 2019 - 5:26 pm
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A French official and the Paris fire chief say they think Notre Dame Cathedral's landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.

Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said late Monday that authorities remain "prudent" but are "much more optimistic" than earlier in the night.

Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.

Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged." He says one firefighter was injured.

He says fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.

The mayor of Paris says people who live near Notre Dame Cathedral have been evacuated in preparation for the burning structure's possible collapse.

But Mayor Anne Hidalgo said late Monday that firefighters were optimistic they could keep the towers that bookend the famous cathedral from going up in flames.

The fire chief in Paris went even further, saying his crews managed to stop the flames from reaching the belfry and prevented a catastrophic collapse.

Gallet says one firefighter was injured.

Hildago says the significant collection art work and holy objects kept inside the church has been recovered.

Parisians have gathered to say prayers and sing hymns In front of the nearby Saint Julien Les Pauvres church as the massive blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral burns only a few hundred meters away.

Flames and smoke rose in the sky behind the singers. A couple hundred people kneeling in prayer at the center of a larger group, who are standing around the edge and joining in the hymns between the prayers.

Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit is inviting priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers for Notre Dame.

Aupetit is at the cathedral and will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron later Monday night.

An official from the French Interior Ministry says 400 firefighters are at the scene of the fire but might they not be able to save Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Laurent Nunez, speaking to reporters at the scene, says the devastating fire is not limited yet to a certain area and might continue to expand. He says cause of fire at the cathedral is unknown.

A group of Americans from Maine had just finished visiting Notre Dame Cathedral and were in a nearby park when they heard it was on fire.

Freeport resident Lucy Soule, 22, said it was "weird" having been in the church right before this happened. "Now you can smell it burning."

Soule and her father, Win Soule, 58, and Libby Heselton, 53, are on a weeklong trip to Paris where they planned to "see all the sights" and had just finished their visit to Notre Dame. They had been in the cathedral at 5:30 p.m., about an hour before the fire.

Win told The Associated Press "Now I feel sorry for the people tomorrow. They won't be able to see it."

He says "it's incredible. I'm not religious, but this is clearly very important to a lot of people."

The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at Notre Dame from spreading and causing more destruction.

Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled the blaze from both the exterior and interior: "We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry.

Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."

Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame's towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96-meters-high (315-feet.

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9:40 p.m.

The Vatican has issued a statement about the "terrible fire" that has "devastated" Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The Vatican said: "The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world."

The statement says the Vatican is praying for firefighters "and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation" on Monday.

It also expressed "our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris, and we assure our prayers for firefighters

French President Emmanuel Macron is treating the fire gutting Notre Dame Cathedral as a national emergency.

Macron reached the landmark cathedral on Monday evening and went straight into meetings at the nearby Paris police headquarters.

France's civil security agency says "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.

The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.

The mammoth fire that destroyed the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral has spread to one of the church's landmark rectangular towers.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of Monday's fire in Paris watched the flames blazing behind an oblong stained-glass window in the tower.

Paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put the flames out while others work from the exterior. Red smoke is pouring out of the cathedral.

A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church's entire wooden interior was in flames.

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived at Notre Dame.

French writer and historian Camille Pascal says a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has caused "the destruction of invaluable heritage" and "we can be only horrified by what we see."

Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV: "It's been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris" and its bells pealed for both "happy and unfortunate events."

He recalled that Notre Dame's bells sounded a death knell after the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

Authorities are investigating if renovation work on the cathedral's fire was a factor in starting or spreading the fire.

On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the fire consuming Notre Dame Cathedral is taking part of everyone in France with it.

Macron tweeted after the blaze broke out in the cathedral's spire on Monday he was sad to see "a part of us being on fire."

He extended "thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French."

His administration says Macron is heading to Notre Dame.

The deputy mayor of Paris says Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered "colossal damages" from a fire that started in the spire and caused it to collapse.

Speaking to BFMTV, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said first responders now trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.

A cathedral spokesman has said the entire wooden interior of the Notre Dame is burning and likely to be destroyed.

-AP