"Paris Is Beheaded": Macron Vows To Rebuild Notre Dame After Horrific Fire; Interior Largely Spared

Update 11: While the staggering outside damage to the historic French cathedral has yet to be assessed, it would appear that despite the massive damage to the frame and the wooden roof, the inside of the Notre Dame was miraculously spared.

The interior of the cathedral is 427 by 157 feet, with its 115-foot-high roof. Two massive early Gothic towers crown the western facade, which is divided into three stories and has its doors adorned with early Gothic carvings and surmounted by a row of figures of Old Testament kings.

Some more good news: many of the centuries-old artworks and relics from the cathedral were removed by firefighters, according to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. She wrote on Twitter she was at a loss for words “to express the pain I feel in the face of the ravaging flames. Tonight Parisians and the French mourn this symbol of our common history.”

Meanwhile, French President Macron vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame after a massive fire ravaged the 850-year-old Gothic monument and left France in shock over the extensive damage to one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks. The blaze raged for more than four hours on Monday evening before Macron declared the two bell towers and facade had been saved. Flames had engulfed the roof, snaking up the ornate spire before it collapsed as smoke billowed out into the evening skyline of the French capital. Around 500 firefighters battled the inferno.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame because that’s what the French people want,” said Macron, who was visibly moved. “That’s what our history deserves, because that is our destiny.”

The historic church, located on one of two islands in the middle of the Seine River, had been under renovation and scaffolding had covered much of the top structure. French Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said it’s too early to say what caused the fire while Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation.

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Update 10: Emmanuel Macron has arrived on scene, and is giving a speech outside the cathedral, after authorities claimed that the body of the cathedral has been 'saved and preserved'.

"It is our common history that is burning, he said."

Meanwhile, a drawing of Quasimodo, the animated hunchback of Notre Dame from the 1996 Disney film, has gone viral as a symbol of mourning and loss after the tragedy.

And here's a look at tomorrow's front pages.

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Update 9: The Vatican has released a statement on the fire at Notre Dame bemoaning the tragedy and offering prayers for French Catholics.

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Update 8: As firefighters rush to try and prevent an all-out collapse of the cathedral, the fire has consumed almost its entire roof.





Offering another silver of good news, officials told the French media that the North bell tower might be saved. Officials said they were more optimistic than earlier, and there is reason to believe both towers could probably be saved.

Meanwhile, as one Twitter account pointed out, a number of historic tragedies have unfolded on April 15...could this be a sign from the universe?

As thousands gasped in horror along the banks of the Seine, keeping vigil late into the night as the iconic cathedral smoldered, some on Twitter tried to find humor in the midst of tragedy.

Shedding more light on the cause of the fire, an expert in New York told the NYT that construction and renovation fires at old churches and synagogues aren't that common (an iconic church in NYC burned down last year under similar circumstances).

Glenn Corbett, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York, said that construction work and renovations had long been a dangerous combination.

"There’s a history of churches and synagogues and other houses of worship falling victim to construction fires," he said, adding that one of the reasons for the peril was the proximity of open flames on torches, sparks from welders and other hazards on scaffolding to other flammable materials.

Rebutting Trump's suggestion that France try to put out the fire by dumping water on the blaze via the air, French emergency services said such an operation could cause the whole thing to collapse.

Speaking with bystanders on the banks of the Siene, the NYT recorded reactions ranging from sadness to terror.

"It hurts to watch this," said Pierre-Eric Trimovillas, 32. "The cathedral is the symbol, the heart of Paris."

The crowd gasped and cried in horror as the spire fell, Mr. Trimovillas said, adding, "Paris is beheaded."

Another described it as "eight centuries of history up in smoke."

Christine Lagarde weighed in on twitter, saying she shared the sadness of the French people. One can't help but wonder how the destruction of Notre Dame, and the presumed hit to tourism revenues, might impact France's growth prospects.

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Update 7: Demonstrating just how ineffectual YouTube's automated systems for filtering out 'conspiratorial' content truly are, BBG reports that one of the company's algorithms accidentally flagged a live stream of the fire at Notre Dame as a "9/11 conspiracy".

Meanwhile, France's interior minister has Christophe Castaner is the latest official to confirm that the cathedral might be completely destroyed, as firefighters might not be able to save it.

"The next hour and a half will be decisive," a spokesman for the city’s firefighters said at 9:30 pm Paris time, according to the NYT.

They also revealed that the fire started in the attic of the cathedral.

"We’re not sure of being able to stop the spread of the fire in the north belfry," the spokesman told television interviewers, adding that the fire had started in the cathedral’s attic. "I leave you to imagine, in that case, the extent of the damage."

Firefighters are also struggling to save the northern tower of the cathedral, which is currently on fire and presently in danger of collapse.

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Update 6: A priest at the cathedral has told reporters that all of the priceless artwork inside the cathedral has been saved, including the crown of thorns and that "the treasure of the cathedral" is intact.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the building itself.

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Update 5: Though police quickly assured the public that the cause of the fire was 'accidental', Paris prosecutors have reportedly opened an investigation into what started the blaze.

As 400 firefighters combat the blaze, the flames have spread to one of the two towers that adorn the facade. The blaze is expected to burn for several hours, and a church official has told reporters that they expect the cathedral to be completely destroyed.


While addressing a round table on the economy in Minnesota, Trump offered more comments on the fire, Trump said the cathedral "looks like it's burning to the ground."

Macron offered his thoughts and prayers to all Catholics in a tweet.

Unesco is also closely monitoring the situation.

Though officials say the fire looks like an accident, it's certainly curious that ten Catholic churches have been vandalized across France in the span of a week.

With the inside probably irrepairably damaged, if not completely lost, some are sharing photos of the interior of the cathedral.


To recap, the cathedral's 15-foot lead spire has collapsed, and the roof has as well, during holy week on the Catholic calendar, which is a busy season for Paris's most popular tourist attraction.

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Update 4: Though he was tweeting before the spire collapsed, this thread from a former state public safety official in the US offers some insights into the monumental task facing the Parisian firefighters as they rush to save the cathedral.

In short: Saving the cathedral might be an impossible task.

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Update 3: It's looking increasingly likely that the cathedral will be burned to the ground after a church spokesman confirmed that its entire frame is on fire after the spire collapse. The government is desperately trying to save the artwork inside the cathedral.

French firefighters are still putting together a plan to put out the blaze. The cathedral's location on a small island in the middle of the Seine certainly isn't helping.

Though the cathedral has endured a number of threats during its more than 850 year history, the damage from today's fire is unprecedented, one source claimed.

The cathedral was ransacked during the French revolution, but was largely rebuilt in the 1840s. The spire that collapsed went up about 150 years ago.


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Update 2: The cathedral's spire and roof have now collapsed.

Since officials are blaming the fire on an 'accident' related to the renovations...just imagine renovating one of the world's most historic landmarks then accidentally burning it to the ground.


The neighborhood around the cathedral has been evacuated and Macron is reportedly on his way to the scene. Huge crowds have gathered around the banks of the Seine to watch in amazement as the cathedral burns.


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Update: President Trump has weighed in on the blaze, urging parisian officials to act quickly to save the cathedral.

Here's a live feed of the fire.

At this point, firefighters attacking the blaze are treating it as an accident somehow related to the "massive" construction happening at the cathedral, which was being renovated. Police later confirmed that the fire was an accident linked to the renovation work. The cathedral had been undergoing a $12.5 million renovation financed by the French state, after the Catholic church in France launched an "urgent" campaign to raise funds for the renovation, because the cathedral was starting to crumble.

Cracks had started appearing in the stone at the cathedral, sparking fears that it could become unstable, according to the BBC.

If there's a silver lining, many of the historic statues were removed by crane just last night.

Meanwhile, the fact that the cathedral caught fire at the beginning of holy week, a time when catholic tourists have flocked to the city, added a layer of irony to the fire.

At this point, it looks like the cathedral's spire has been totally destroyed.

French President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a policy speech to attend to the disaster. He had been planning to address the nation to announce plans to address the concerns of the gilet jaune protest movement. Monday night but that speech has reportedly been cancelled.

A spokesman for the cathedral said the fire began around 6:30 pm local time, or around 1:30 pm ET.


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It's unclear how it started or what, exactly, is going on, but the historic Notre Dame cathedral caught fire on Monday, and photos and video circulating on social media suggest that conflagration has engulfed the historic monument.

Photos have been circulating on social media:





Notre Dame



The cause of the fire at the 856-year-old cathedral isn't yet clear - though officials said it could be linked to renovation work. Parts of the roof and the cathedral's skyline-definiing spire were alight, though the true extent of the blaze was difficult to discern. Construction on the cathedral began in 1163 and was completed in 1260. Today, it is the most visited tourist attraction in Paris, drawing 12 million visitors per year, beating out the Eiffel Tower. The cathedral is considered the finest example of French Gothic architecture.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted about the "terrible fire" and asked people to stay away: "A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The @PompiersParis are trying to control the flames. We are mobilized on the spot in close connection with the @dioceseparis. I invite everyone to respect the security perimeter."

The situation is a terrible tragedy as one of the most revered monuments in all of Catholicism looks like it could be completely destroyed, a historical tragedy that would be practically unrivaled in modern times.

We think this calls for a little levity.