Notre-Dame cathedral was 15-30 minutes from total destruction after a huge fire destroyed its wooden roof and spire, the French government said on Monday night.
"Just 15 minutes or half an hour later and it would have been too late to save it," junior interior minister Laurent Nunez told reporters outside the cathedral.
The Paris fire brigade averted the greater disaster by risking their lives to remain inside the burning cathedral to create a wall of water between the fire and two towers on the west side of the building, according to The Guardian.
Here's what was saved:
As the smoke began to clear from the devastating fire at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, the world's attention shifted to the irreplaceable collection of artifacts and cultural items inside the more than 800-year-old landmark. While some of the priceless collection was lost forever in the flames, other pieces were spared. Here's a rundown of what remains and what does not. -CBS News
Crown of Thorns - the cathedral's most important relic believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, was saved by Father Jean-Marc Fournier - chaplain of the Paris Fire Department. Fournier was able to grab the crown at the end of a human chain of fire fighters. The crown was brought to Paris in the 13th century by King Louis IX - later canonized as Saint Louis.
The Great Organ - Deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire said that the famed Great Organ - among the most famous and largest in the world - remained intact. It was built in the mid-18th century by Francois Thierry and has an estimated 8,000 pipes.
The Tunic of St. Louis - a centuries-old garment that reportedly belonged to King Louis IX
Altar and cross - The cathedral's altar and golden cross are still intact, while debris from the collapsed wooden roof lay in a pile in front of it.
Rooftop statues - In a stroke of good fortune - or perhaps divine intervention, 16 religious statues had been removed from the roof days before the fire as part of the cathedral's $6.8 million renovation. The statues show 12 apostles and four evangelists, and were taken from their perches to a workshop in Bordeaux.
Stained glass windows - Many of Notre Dame's gothic stained glass windows appear to be left unharmed by the flames - however Audrey Azoulay - director of the UN cultural organization (UNESCO), it is still too early to say whether they survived completely unscathed.
Completed around the year 1255, the Notre Dame's Rose window is nearly 33 feet in diameter and has one of the highest ratios of glass and stone of any other rose window.
Other stained glass windows at Notre Dame did not fare so well:
Other church treasures - Various candelabras, gilded furniture and other valuable items were taken to Paris city hall after the fire. According to French Culture Minister Franck Riester, all of the rescued items would be transferred to the Louvre Museum for safe keeping.
What was lost: Spire and various relics
As we saw from video of the burning Cathedral, its iconic spire collapsed dramatically during the fire which destroyed nearly 2/3 of the roof. Sacred artifacts contained within the spire are feared to have been destroyed.
"What they didn't save were the relics that were in the spire of the cathedral itself," said Candida Moss - theology professor at Britain's University of Birmingham. Moss told CBS This Morning that "They had small portions of the relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve in the spire that are presumed lost."