dpa, Hamburg, Germany
A massive blaze that partially destroyed the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been completely extinguished, said Gabriel Plus, a spokesman for the city’s fire brigade, on Tuesday.
Firefighters managed to save the 850-year-old building’s main stone structure, but the roof and other parts of the cathedral were destroyed in the blaze overnight to Tuesday.
Plus said the fire on the roof had reached 1,000 square metres in size before it was contained.
After a “bitter battle” to douse the flames, firefighters were able to maintain the edifice’s structure and rescue the cathedral’s most important artworks, the fire brigade said, adding that two police officers and one firefighter had sustained slight injuries.
Though the reason for the fire has yet to be determined, Patrick Chauvet – the rector of the cathedral – told broadcaster France Inter that that there had been wardens checking the roof for fire hazards three times a day.
“I think there is nothing more you can do,” Chauvet said, adding that the public would now have to wait for the outcome of official investigations.
The Paris prosecutor’s office is investigating a count of “involuntary destruction by fire,” saying there is currently no evidence to indicate that it may have been arson.
French media reported that the fire may have been linked to renovation work on the roof and the spire, which dated back to a 19th-century restoration.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced her intention to hold a donor conference for the cathedral’s reconstruction on Tuesday.
Several donors have already come forward: the Ile-de-France region that contains Paris has said it will put forward 10 million euros (11.3 million dollars), while the LVMH luxury goods group of French billionaire Bernard Arnaud will donate 200 million euros.
The pledges follow a 100-million-euro donation for Notre Dame from Kering luxury good company owner Francois Henri Pinault.
Leaders of countries around the world have pledged their support.
European Council President Donald Tusk calls on all 28 EU member states to help rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral, while recalling his home city of Gdansk in Poland, which was rebuilt after World War II following widespread destruction.
“You will also rebuild your cathedral,” Tusk says during a European Parliament session in the French city of Strasbourg. “I call on all the 28 member states to take part in this task,” he adds.
“I know that France could do it alone, but at stake here is something more than just material help,” Tusk says, adding: “We are bound by something more important and more profound than treaties.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday that Berlin stood ready to give its support as a close friend of Paris. A government spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier said that it “hurts to see these terrible pictures of the burning Notre Dame.”
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