UPDATED throughout: “It is with pride I tell you tonight we will rebuild this cathedral,” French President Emmanuel Macron told France Monday evening. On Tuesday, he said, he will call on the “greatest talent” from inside and outside French borders, “and we will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect of us, it is what our history deserves, it is, in the deepest sense, our destiny.”
Speaking to his country, Macron described Notre Dame of Paris as “our history, our literature…the place where our biggest moments played: plagues, wars, liberations. It is at the very heart of our lives.” By the time he addressed his country, the fire had consumed worldwide Twitter, including Top-10 trending for:
Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral continued to burn Monday night. But Paris police report they have been able to save the two rectangular bell towers at the front of the nearly 900-year-old structure.
That welcome news came around 11 PM Paris time. Earlier in the evening, MSNBC had quoted the French Interior Ministry spokesperson saying firefighters “might not be able to save” the cathedral that took 200 years to build, as the fire expanded into one of its bell towers.
The fire broke out at 6:50 PM Paris time which France 24 reported is “five or six minutes” after the cathedral closed for the day.
Fox’s Shep Smith reported that when the fire broke out, it was described as small burning and local news in Paris was not focused on the fire. “As to why they weren’t able to contain it is reporting for another day,” he added.
Two hours after the fire first was noted, much of the cathedral was in flames. U.S. news viewers saw the spire become engulfed and topple; much of the roof burn away and the wooden interior consumed.
A spokesman from the church said the entire wooden interior was destroyed. No injuries have been reported. The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into the Notre Dame fire, CNN reports.
Paris’ deputy mayor described the damage to the cathedral as “colossal” and efforts had been underway to save some of the art and artifacts inside, though it’s not known how successful were those efforts. French authorities say the fire is “potentially linked” to the $6.8 million renovation project that had been under way on the church’s 295-foot high spire, which no longer exists.
President Donald Trump took another crack at a presidential response Monday. Speaking at a Tax Day roundtable/campaign rally in Minnesota, POTUS called the cathedral “one of the great treasures of the world. The greatest artists in the world if you think about it, I would say might be greater than almost any museum in the world, and it’s burning very badly. Looks like it’s burning to the ground.”
“That puts a damper on what we’re about to say, to be honest,” Trump told attendees, calling Notre Dame “beyond countries; it’s part of our growing up, part of our culture. Part of our lives.”
Noting he had visited the cathedral, Trump added, “I think I could say there no cathedral in the world like it. They think it was caused by renovation. I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, what’s that all about? But it’s a terrible sight to behold.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted [translation]: “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization issued a statement saying it is ready to “save and restore” Notre Dame, Fox News Channel reported.
CNN reported that, as the fire rapidly spread and took over the iconic cathedral, onlookers nearby scrambled in disbelief to get a view of the scene, despite being told to clear the area.
Smoke could be seen billowing out from the top of the medieval cathedral, as flames leaped out besides its two bell towers, a Reuters witness reported.
U.S. cable news networks jettisoned regularly scheduled program and focused on the blaze as it spread. Broadcast networks broke into their programming to cover around 2 PM ET.
“Heartbreaking scenes of Notre Dame cathedral in flames. London stands in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always,” he tweeted.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau tweeted “Thinking of our friends in France as you fight this devastating fire.”
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