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Notre Dame Blaze Now Fully Extinguished

Famous organ, Crown of Thorns were saved
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2019 4:36 AM CDT
Updated Apr 16, 2019 6:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – Paris firefighters declared the fire at Notre Dame fully extinguished early Tuesday as France mourned the partial destruction of one of the country's most treasured landmarks. Authorities say the principal structure and the two bell towers have been saved, but the building is still unstable, the AP reports. The cathedral's roof and spire collapsed in the blaze. "The task is—now the risk of fire has been put aside—about the building, how the structure will resist," said Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez. President Emmanuel Macron visited the scene of what he called a "terrible tragedy" Monday night. "We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years," he promised. In other developments:

  • Treasures saved. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says many of the cathedral's treasures, including the Crown of Thorns thought to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion, were recovered intact. Historians haven't verified that the crown is authentic, though they have confirmed it is at least 1,600 years old, USA Today reports.

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  • Cause unknown. The cause of the fire is still unknown, though it may be linked to renovation work at the cathedral, which is more than 850 years old, the New York Times reports. The cathedral's rector says the fire apparently broke out in a network of ancient wooden beams nicknamed "the forest." Prosecutors say the fire is being investigated as an accident.
  • Window, organ survived. At least one of the famous stained glass windows in the interior appears to have survived the blaze, though there are fears for the others, the BBC reports. Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire says Notre Dame's iconic 300-year-old organ, which has more than 8,000 pipes, was also saved, thanks to the rapid activation of a plan to protect the cathedral's treasures.
  • Mourning in Paris. As the cathedral burned Monday night, thousands of Parisians, many of them in tears, gathered for a vigil nearby, France24 reports. "I couldn’t stay home," said a 50-year-old man. "I had to be here. We all know and love Notre Dame. It’s Victor Hugo. It’s part of our cultural roots and a huge part of our history."

  • "Shock and sadness." The Vatican expressed its "shock and sadness" at the fire in a statement Tuesday, the Guardian reports. The church, which described the cathedral as a "symbol of Christianity in France and in the world," said it was offering prayers for firefighters and everybody else involved.
  • At least three injuries. The Times reports that there were no fatalities among the 500 firefighters who spent hours trying to save the cathedral, but one firefighter and two police officers were injured.
  • Trump advice rejected. President Trump's advice for France to use "flying water tankers" to tackle the blaze was met with polite rejection from the French, the Hill reports. France's civil defense agency said Monday that "all means" were being used, "except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral."
(Two French billionaires are donating more than $300 million to the rebuilding effort.)

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