It took 400 firemen 8 hours up until 3 a.m. Tuesday, April 16 to bring the fire under control at the 850-years old Notre Dame cathedral of Paris. By then, most of the priceless medieval art relics had been consumed. The roof and spires, iconic landmarks of Paris, had collapsed into the building. Parts of the stone fabric were saved, but little remained of the ancient wooden interior. French President Emmanuel Macron and his government vowed to start work at once to restore the precious landmark and opened a national appeal to raise funds. Restoration experts are pessimistic, estimating that it will take years just to prepare the plans and many more years to find and assemble the skilled artisans needed for the work. This monumental, national project could take decades. Even then, parts of the world-famous cathedral can never be replaced. It is therefore initially proposed to start work on a small part of the entrance for restoring the site to its regular function as a working Catholic church as it was before.
DEBKAfile reported the outbreak of the fire on Monday night.
The Paris fire brigade is fighting the flames at the Notre Dame cathedral after the roof collapsed on the medieval building. Notre Dame spokesman has just reported that the wooden interior of the cathedral was destroyed by the fire and nothing remains. Emergency teams tried to save the interior. President Emmanuel Macron has canceled his speech to the nation over the disaster at the iconic site. No deaths have been immediately reported. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but officials say it could be connected to renovation work. Plumes of smoke were billowing around the 850-year old Gothic building for hours. Last year, the Catholic Church in France urgently appealed for funds to save the cathedral which was starting to crumble. Millions of tourists visit the ancient landmark every year. It is undergoing renovations since cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears that the structure could become unstable. Macron will be going to the scene of the fire, a palace spokesman said. The Cathedral on the Ile de La Cite in the fourth arrondissement of Paris is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and the site of major events in French history, including the coronation of kings and the burial of Charles de Gaulle.