Paris Tries to Save Notre Dame

Cathedral's towers appear safe from raging fire
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2019 5:49 PM CDT
Paris Tries to Save Notre Dame
People pray as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris, Monday. 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/Christophe Ena)

Crowds gathered late Monday night outside Notre Dame, singing "Ave Maria" and other hymns while the iconic cathedral burned. As the mourners sang and prayed, French officials said the building's towers have been saved, the AP reports. Crews were able to keep the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry, reported Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet, who said that one firefighter was seriously injured, per CNN. Officials have ruled out arson and terrorism in the fire and are investigating it as an accident. The church's spire was undergoing a renovation project. The blaze is thought to have begun in the attic. Flames engulfed the wood-and-lead spire, which fell. Most of the roof fell next. By midnight, officials said firefighters were working to save the church's artworks.

As leaders around the world sent condolences to the French people, President Emmanuel Macron, who went to the site, said he will launch an international fundraising campaign on Tuesday. "We will rebuild this cathedral together," he said, per CNN. The cathedral has survived ransacking by Protestant Huguenots in the 1500s, the mobs of the French Revolution in the 1790s, two world wars and botched restorations, Reuters reports. This week each year—Holy Week—Notre Dame brings out some of its coveted relics, including the Holy Crown, believed by many to be from the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus. The cathedral says that Catholics have prayed with the Holy Crown for more than 16 centuries. Late Monday night, ash fell from the sky and smoke wafted across Paris. As the crowds around the cathedral increased, the singing grew louder. (More Notre Dame Cathedral stories.)

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