Notre Dame Fire ‘Weaker,’ Structure ‘Saved From Total Destruction,’ Says French Fire Official

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The fire that at one time was feared would completely destroy Paris’ famed Notre Dame Cathedral has been weakened, and the 800-year-old church has been “saved from total destruction,” a French fire official says. However, it could be years if not decades before the structure is fully repaired.

As CNBC reports, an unnamed French fire official said Monday afternoon (Eastern Time) that the iconic Paris landmark has been spared the flames’ wrath, following earlier reports that the centuries-old cathedral might not survive Monday’s fire.

That’s not to say that all is well at the church. Already one of its spires has collapsed, and fire officials are still assessing the damage. Weakened parts of the building may yet collapse, increasing the known amount of damage the building has suffered.

What Happened?

At about 6:50 p.m. Paris time (12:50 p.m. Eastern Time), the first reports of came in that the church was on fire. Within minutes, hundreds of Paris firefighters were on the scene as the structure was engulfed in flames.

Meanwhile, Paris officials ordered residents of the area away from the building, out of fear that the fire could spread or that the structure could collapse.

As of this writing, the cause of the fire is unknown. However, the building has been undergoing extensive renovations recently and is believed to have been started accidentally, as BBC News reports.

As of this writing, no civilians are believed to have been injured in the fire. At least one firefighter is believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries; as of this writing, his or her condition is unknown.

Paris Mourns

Around the cathedral and in other parts of Paris, residents of the City of Lights gathered to watch in horror as one of the city’s most iconic structures burned. In some places, the city’s Catholic residents burst into song, including a heart-stirring, impromptu rendition of “Ave Maria.”

In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “part of us” burned with the cathedral. Translated from French, his tweet reads the following.

“Notre-Dame is aflame. Great emotion for the whole nation. Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to the French people. Like all of my fellow citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight.”

Can It Be Saved?

French officials certainly hope so.

Besides the structure itself, the church was also home to artwork and statues of immeasurable religious, cultural, and historical significance, according to CNN. Many of those works of art had been shuffled off to a secure back room while renovation work took place; it is believed, as of this writing, that those works are safe. Several bronze statues had been removed from the church months ago to make room for renovation.

This is an ongoing story. More information about the Notre Dame cathedral fire will be published as it becomes available.