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Notre Dame main structure 'saved' after blaze engulfs Paris cathedral

Video footage from the scene shows the iconic spire collapsing.

Updated Apr 15th 2019, 10:48 PM

France Notre Dame Fire Source: Thibault Camus

FRENCH FIRE SERVICES tackling a major blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris have said the main structure of the building has been “saved and preserved”. 

Speaking this evening, Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters outside the cathedral that “we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved”, adding it appeared that the two main towers of the building had now been saved.

Gallet said that the main task now was to cool the temperature inside the cathedral, a procedure that would take several hours. One firefighter has been injured while tackling the blaze. 

French president Emmanuel Macron, who was at the scene this evening, said the iconic gothic structure will be rebuilt and that the “worst has been avoided”.

Images from the scene began to emerge shortly after 7pm local time showing smoke and flames billowing from the top of the building.

French media earlier reported that part of the roof towards the back of the building had collapsed, with video footage also showing the spire collapsing in.

400 firefighters were battling the blaze in Paris this evening. Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez has said at the scene earlier that saving the gothic monument was “not certain”.

Police cordoned off streets surrounding the cathedral while emergency services tackled the blaze.  

Before the fire broke out, scaffolding could be seen around parts of the building as it was undergoing renovations.

The peak of the church had been undergoing a €6 million renovation project. UN cultural agency UNESCO said it is “at France’s side to save and restore” the famous cathedral. 

The cause of the fire is unknown, although French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is “potentially linked” to the renovation work.

Work started on Notre Dame – translated literally as ‘Our Lady of Paris’ – in 1163 with the original structure finally completed nearly 200 years later in 1345. 

The cathedral has become famous through artistic works like Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and is known for its iconic stained glass ‘rose’ windows made between 1225 and 1250. 

Spokesman for the cathedral, Andre Finot, has said that the wooden structure supporting the roof was gutted by the blaze. “Everything is burning,” he said earlier this evening. 

French police warned members of the public to avoid the area. 

US President Donald Trump suggested earlier via Twitter that “flying water tankers” could be used to put out the blaze – an idea dismissed shortly after by the French Civil Defence. which said such a move could lead to the collapse of the entire structure. 

As a popular tourist attraction, millions of tourists visit the medieval building every year.

With reporting from Cónal Thomas and © AFP, 2019

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