Notre Dame towers declared safe from fire, officials believe blaze started accidentally

1010 WINS Newsroom
April 15, 2019 - 1:33 pm

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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PARIS (1010 WINS/AP) -- A French official and the Paris fire chief say they think Notre Dame Cathedral's landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.

Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said late Monday that authorities remain "prudent" but are "much more optimistic" than earlier in the night.

Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.

Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged." He says one firefighter was injured.

He says fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.

Meanwhile, Paris prosecutors think huge fire at Notre Dame was started accidentally based on preliminary investigation

The deputy mayor of Paris said Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered "colossal damages" from the fire, which started in the spire. 

Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet initially wasn't sure firefighters could contain the blaze: "We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry, he said. 

Speaking to BFMTV, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said first responders are trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.

On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze.

"A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris," Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted. "They @PompiersParis are trying to control the flames. We are mobilized on site in close connection with the @dioceseParis. I invite each and every one to respect the perimeter of security."

The peak of the church is undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.

French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is "potentially linked'' to the renovation work.

French President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a televised speech to the nation because of a massive fire enveloping the top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Macron's pre-recorded speech was set to be aired later Monday on French TV. Macron was expected to lay out his plan to address the citizen complaints that gave rise to the yellow vest protests that have rocked France since November.

New York City's Cardinal Dolan tweeted, "I just went next door to our own beloved Cathedral, Saint Patrick’s, to ask the intercession of Notre Dame, our Lady, for the Cathedral at the heart of Paris, and of civilization, now in flames!  God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze."

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, "Heartbreaking to see such tragic footage of Notre Dame right now. Sending solidarity to my friend Mayor @Anne_Hidalgo and to the people of a city as resilient as our own. New York City is mourning with Paris."

 

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