The firefighters in Paris have now declared that Notre Dame Cathedral has been saved even though flames continue to burn the wreckage of the cathedral’s roof. The massive flam destroyed the timber roof of the Western iconic monument and about two hours into the conflagration, the upper part of the 93-meter-high spire fell as flames shot up. More than 400 firefighters battled the fire as solemn crowds watched quietly from behind police cordons.

According to the Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet the structure of the cathedral had been “saved and preserved overall” and its bell towers, at one point thought to be at risk, are now safe. French media reported that the renovation work might have caused the fire. The Paris prosecutor’s office said that “as matters stand” it was investigating a count of “involuntary destruction by fire”.

Paris's Notre Dame cathedral massive fire
Smoke billows as fire engulfed the spire of Notre Dame cathedral [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]
According to Rector Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, The cathedral’s most precious relics had been saved. Shortly afterward, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the media and said that “the worst has been avoided, even if the battle has not been fully won”. Calling the cathedral “the very center of our lives”, he vowed that France “will rebuild Notre Dame”. He further added that “It is what French people expect because it is what our history deserves because it is our deep destiny.

A church spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the cathedral was burning and likely to be destroyed. Those who are living close to the cathedral have been evacuated in case of a possible collapse of the building. According to France defense agency, all means except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to put out the flames as those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.

iconic structure in central Paris in flames
The iconic structure in central Paris in flames [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]
Many media reporters, reporting from Paris, said they saw tears streaming down the face of some onlookers. The cathedral is a French icon, it is a symbol of Paris all over the world. To see it in flames is extremely sad for so many people.

Notre Dame is famous all around the world for its, antiquity and architectural interest. Notre Dame is believed to attract nearly 13 million people a year.

Notre Dame cathedral
The cathedral, which is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year [File: Charles Platiau/Reuters]
The Notre Dame cathedral is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. It was also believed that Christian crusaders prayed before going to fight in the Holy Land. Another historical importance in this monument is that it was here, where revolutionaries defiled representations of French kings and Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804.

According to Professor Massimo Faggioli (Professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University) “It’s a devastating image because Notre Dame, Paris and France play a key role in the history of European Christendom that is second only to Rome and the Vatican”. He further stated that “This is really fire at the heart of Christianity”.

Camille Pascal who is a French historian told France’s BFM television news channel that this fire marked the destruction of invaluable heritage. Camille further mentioned that “It has been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris … happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame, We can be only horrified by what we see.”

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