Everything We Know So Far About The Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

Notre-Dame, the 850-year-old and most revered cathedral in Paris, erupted into massive flames on Monday evening that caused enormous damages to the building and devastated the entire world. 

The fire broke out and alarms rang at around 6:30 p.m. As the last group of tourists tried to see the historic site, the doors were shut with no explanation, a witness told The New York Times. Videos and photos all over social media soon showed black and gray smoke billowing into the sky, and orange flames bursting out of the cathedral’s iconic spire.

In a tweet, Paris’ mayor Anne Hidalgo first confirmed the cathedral was on fire and asked everyone to clear the area as firefighters worked to control the flames.

“A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” she said, according to CNN’s translation. “The fire brigade are trying to control the fire. We are mobilized locally in close connection with church authorities. I ask everyone to respect the security perimeter.” 

Tourists and citizens soon gathered on the streets and on social media to watch the building being engulfed in flames. Across the Seine river at the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres, crowds also gathered to pray and sing hymns. 

It’s not clear what started the inferno, but The Times reported that the spire caught fire first. Video footage showed onlookers screaming in devastation as the landmark’s famous feature later collapsed entirely. 

The cathedrals wooden roof structure, known as “the forest,” was also destroyed by the fire.  

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told the media, The Associated Press reported. About 500 firefighters worked to control the fire for several hours, according to The Times.

By late Monday evening, France’s fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the cathedral's facade and bell towers were reportedly “safe,” CBS News reported. According to Politico, the cathedral suffered massive damages though, including two-thirds of the wooden roof. 

No major injuries or deaths were reported, but CNN reported that at least one firefighter suffered a minor injury.

A number of Notre Dame’s treasures were reportedly saved, including a centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold, CBS News reports. Officials have yet to release an inventory of what was saved or lost from the fire. 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday night called the fire a “terrible tragedy,” and announced that a worldwide fundraising campaign would launch to help rebuild the cathedral on Tuesday. 

“I’m telling you all tonight—we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders,” Macron said, CNN reported.

The iconic cathedral, which attracts around 13 million visitors a year, had been undergoing a $6.8 million renovation project. France Info reported that firefighters claimed that the large fire was “potentially linked” to the renovations work. No official cause has been released, but prosecutors have ruled out arson and “terror-related motives,” AP News reports. Prosecutors reportedly said it will treat the fire as an accident.

Many worldwide were quick to react to this devastating situation. 

On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

But, French civilian security services replied that air tankers couldn’t be used because the weight of the water released from the air “could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.”

The president also commented: “It’s one of the great treasures of the world. It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our lives. That is a truly great cathedral and I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, and there is...no cathedral in the world like it. It is a terrible scene.

The Vatican later released a statement, CBS News reported, saying it felt “great shock and sadness” about the fire at Notre Dame and calling it “a symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”

Camille Pascal, a French historian, said the fire signified “the destruction of invaluable heritage.” 

“It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watched over Paris,” Pascal said, according to the AP News. “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame. We can be only horrified by what we see.”

Many were also quick to react on social media.

As of right now, officials have reported that the fire’s been contained.