Notre Dame Blaze Probably Accidental, French Prosecutors Say

A massive fire swept across the top of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, collapsing its spire and threatening one of the world's greatest architectural treasures as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

Monday's devastating fire left the iconic French cathedral partially destroyed, including its 850-year-old roof and spire.

On Monday evening 16:50 GMT a fire broke out in the attic of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The 56-year-old French billionaire and his father, François Pinault, have pledged to donate more than $100 million for the repairs of the cathedral.

"The global competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc", Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said. At the time, Hidalgo tweeted, "A bad fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, firefighters are trying to control the flames".

The Firefighters of Paris said in a statement, "the structure of the cathedral is saved and the main works of art have been safeguarded, thanks to the combined action of the different services of the State committed to our side".

Actor Kanji Ishimaru, the Japanese voice of protagonist Quasimodo in Disney's animation "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", said "The cathedral has been an important presence in my life as an actor, and I've visited it a number of times".

"Vinci suggests all building companies in France should join forces to rebuild Notre Dame in an industry-wide skills sponsorship drive", the company said in a statement, noting that the 13th century wooden beams holding up the roof will never be replaced while the remaining structure "must be safeguarded".

The New York-based French Heritage Society and the Go Fund Me crowdsourcing platform were among the first to offer help for a cathedral that is a must-see destination for visitors to Paris from all over the world.

"This is a huge tragedy, not only for the French, but for all of humanity".

The fire, reported to be extinguished early Tuesday, was battled by some 500 firefighters. No one was killed but a firefighter was seriously injured.

"Just as the cross didn't have the last word, neither - for people of faith in France - will this fire have the last word", Dolan said.

France has experience of reconstructing cathedrals, including one in Reims that was severely damaged by shelling during World War I and another in Nantes that was gutted by fire in 1972. When Hugo began his sprawling 11-volume tale in 1829, Notre Dame - the "majestic and sublime edifice" which he adored - was crumbling and neglected.

Many critics have argued that the cathedral is in fact the novel's central character.

He posted a photo of the family in front of Notre Dame with the words: "Glad we saw it".

Poland, the Czech Republic and Greece were among those offering to send experts from their own restoration projects, while major French businesses pledged financial assistance.

  • Leroy Wright