Fire damages Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Fire officials announced late on Monday that the main structure and towers of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral have been salvaged after a massive blaze broke out and consumed much of the building, including its iconic spire.

“Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible Notre-Dame fire under control,” the civil protection service said in a statement.

The fire has devastated the 12th-century cathedral, destroying its central spire and much of its interior. The cathedral is one of the most visited landmarks in Paris, getting about 13 million visitors per year.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who immediately came to the scene, is treating the event as a national emergency. He intends to launch an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the cathedral.

“I’m telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together,” Macron told reporters Monday evening after most of the fire had been contained. “This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders.”

News of the fire resonated globally, with many public officials offering solidarity to Parisians via social media.

“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” former president Barack Obama tweeted. “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”

Other public figures, like Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and British Minister Theresa May, expressed their condolences.

“I do not have strong enough words to express the pain that I feel in the face of the #NotreDame flames,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted. “Tonight, all Parisians and French people mourn this symbol of our common history. From our motto, we will draw the strength to rise.”

The current cause of the fire is unknown. It is being speculated that the outbreak of the fire might be related to construction, as the cathedral is currently undergoing renovation. According to The Washington Post, the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation. No injuries or deaths have been reported.

“The heart of Paris and my country is being gutted by the flames,” Parisian Sylvie Lacour, who watched Monday’s events unfold on her television, told The New York Times. “I am devastated.”

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