French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame after it went up in flame following a stalled maintenance work on the masterpiece.
Firefighters managed to save the 850-year-old Gothic building’s main stone structure, including its two towers, but the spire and roof collapsed.
The fire was declared under control almost nine hours after it started
The cause is not yet clear but officials say it could be linked to extensive renovation works under way.
Paris prosecutor’s office said it was currently being investigated as an accident. A firefighter was seriously injured while tackling the blaze.
Visiting the site on Monday night, Mr Macron said the “worst had been avoided” with the preservation of the cathedral’s main structure as he pledged to launch an international fundraising scheme for the reconstruction.
“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,” said Mr Macron.
“That’s what the French expect [and] because it’s what our history deserves,” he added, visibly emotional, calling it a “terrible tragedy”.
The fire started at around 4pm on Monday and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.
Firefighters then spent hours working to prevent one of the iconic bell towers from collapsing. Search teams are now assessing the extent of the damage.
Sections of the building were under scaffolding as part of the renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week. Work began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.