Update: Entire Notre Dame fire ‘fully extinguished’; French billionaire pledges €200m for...

Update: Entire Notre Dame fire ‘fully extinguished’; French billionaire pledges €200m for restoration

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Update: Paris’ deputy mayor said Notre Dame’s organ, one of the biggest and most famous in the world, remains intact after the fire.

Emmanuel Gregoire told BFMTV that a plan to protect the cathedral’s treasures had been rapidly and successfully activated.

A man kneels as people come to watch and photograph the Notre Dame cathedral after the fire.

The organ dates to the 1730s and was constructed by Francois Thierry. It boasts an estimated 8,000 pipes.

Mr Gregoire also described “enormous relief” at the salvaging of pieces such as the purported Crown of Christ.

Update: The blaze at Notre Dame cathedral is fully extinguished, Paris firefighters have confirmed.

A spokesman for Paris firefighters said that “the entire fire is out” at Notre Dame.

Gabriel Plus said emergency services are currently “surveying the movement of the structures and extinguishing smouldering residues”.

Mr Plus said that now the fire is out, “this phase is for the experts” to plan how to consolidate the edifice.

Update: The Paris Fire Service, Pompiers de Paris, said on Twitter that Notre Dame’s structure and artworks had been saved.

It said: “The structure of the cathedral is saved and the main works of art have been safeguarded, thanks to the combined action of the various state services committed to our side.”

They also reported that two police officers and one firefighter had been injured while tackling the blaze.

The fire service said: “After more than nine hours of fierce fighting, nearly 400 Paris firefighters came to grips with the terrible fire. Two police officers and one firefighter were slightly wounded.”

The relic of the crown of thorns and a number of priceless artefacts were taken from the cathedral to Paris City Hall for safekeeping. French billionaire Bernard Arnault and his group LVMH have pledged €200m towards Notre Dame’s reconstruction

Experts are assessing the blackened shell of Notre Dame to establish the next steps to save what remains of the structure.

French junior interior minister Laurent Nunez announced that architects and other experts would meet at the cathedral early on Tuesday “to determine if the structure is stable and if the firefighters can go inside to continue their work”.

A French cultural heritage expert said France no longer has trees big enough to replace ancient wooden beams that burned in the Notre Dame fire.

Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told France Info radio that the wooden roof that went up in flames was built with beams more than 800 years ago from primal forests.

He said the cathedral’s roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because “we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century”.

He said the restoration work will have to use new technologies in order to rebuild the roof.

Earlier: Heartbreak for France as huge fire ravages Notre Dame Cathedral

A catastrophic fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic “epicentre” and sent shockwaves around the world.

Hundreds of firefighters tackled the historic blaze through the night, battling to stop it wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of horrified Parisians.

Meanwhile, teams raced to recover what treasures they could from the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and relics of huge religious and international significance.

The blaze, which broke out as the last crowds of tourists ended visits at around 6pm BST (7pm local time), was finally declared to be “completely under control” nearly nine hours later.

However, it is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire, dampen down hotspots and secure the world-famous edifice.

Attention is beginning to turn to what may have caused the landmark, part of which was being restored, to fall victim to such a disaster.

The Paris prosecutors’ office said police will carry out an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire”, indicating authorities are treating the blaze as a tragic accident for now.

Arson, including possible terror-related motives, was earlier ruled out.

Visiting the scene on Monday night, French president Emmanuel Macron said a national subscription would be launched to rebuild the national monument.

It was reported by AFP that billionaire French fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault had pledge €100m towards the effort.

“Notre Dame is our history, our imagination, where we’ve lived all our great moments, and is the epicentre of our lives,” Mr Macron said.

“It’s the story of our books, our paintings. It’s the cathedral for all French people, even if they have never been. But it is burning and I know this sadness will be felt by all of our citizens.”

Flames and smoke rise as the spire of Notre Dame cathedral collapses

The first harrowing images from within the fire-ravaged cathedral began to emerge as firefighters brought the blaze under control.

A smouldering pile of what appeared to be the charred remains of the roof and spire lay smoking in front of the altar, while a cross that had escaped destruction glowed from within the gloom.

Gilded candlesticks, artworks and furnishings were among the treasures seen being rushed from the cathedral by a “human chain” before being bundled into trucks by police officers.

Some of the cathedral’s most precious objects, including a relic purported to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross, we’re whisked away to a secure facility.

Franck Riester, the French culture minister, tweeted that “Major parts of the treasure #NotreDame are now safe at the Paris City Hall”.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo added: “The Crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.”

Despite fire racing through Notre Dame’s roof, firefighters were able to prevent the blaze consuming the cathedral’s main structure, including its two bell towers.

There were hopes that the three famous rose windows, which date back to the 13th century, avoided catastrophic damage, while the bells that have rung out at key moments in France’s history were thought to be safe.

Concerns over the scale of the damage to Notre Dame came as expressions of grief were sent to Paris from around the world.

We will rebuild

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called the fire “devastating” for Parisians.

“Terrible to see Notre Dame ablaze tonight,” he tweeted.

“Such an iconic cultural landmark. Devastating for the people of Paris who are watching history burning.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May sent her wishes to the French capital from her walking holiday with her husband in Wales, where she is spending the beginning of parliamentary recess.

“My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre Dame cathedral,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted: “Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic #NotreDame fire – and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ. Nous sommes avec vous.”

There were also messages of support from US president Donald Trump, former leaders Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and a stream of world leaders.

Notre Dame is one of Paris’s oldest and most recognisable buildings, and work began on it in 1163.

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