Notre-Dame Cathedral

Hundreds of millions of euros have been pledged to help rebuild Notre-Dame after a devastating fire partially destroyed the French cathedral.

The fire, declared fully extinguished some 15 hours after it began, ravaged the 850-year-old building’s roof and caused its spire to collapse, BBC reports.

But firefighters who worked through the night managed to save the Paris landmark’s main stone structure, including its two towers.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said it was currently being investigated as an accident, with officials saying it could be linked to extensive renovation works taking place.

Meanwhile, thoughts are turning to how the cathedral will be rebuilt.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to reconstruct the historic building even as the fire still burned, while two French business magnates had pledged about €300m ($339m; £259m) between them by early Tuesday.

Offers of help with the reconstruction have also poured in from around the globe, with European Council President Donald Tusk calling on EU member states to rally round.

The fire began at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying the wooden interior before toppling the spire.

Fears grew that the cathedral’s famous towers would also be destroyed.

But while a number of fires did begin in the towers, French Interior Minister Laurent Nuñez said they were successfully stopped before they could spread.

By the early hours of Tuesday, the fire was declared under control, with the Paris fire service saying it was fully extinguished by 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT).

A firefighter was slightly injured while tackling the blaze, Commander Jean-Claude Gallet told BFM TV.

Search teams had already begun assessing the extent of the damage when dawn broke over the French capital. The cathedral’s blackened stone and charred scaffolding were revealed to onlookers for the first time.

According to fire brigade spokesman Lt-Col Gabriel Plus “the whole of the roof has been devastated… a part of the vault has collapsed, the spire is no more”.

However, it could have been much worse. Mr Nuñez said that, had fire crews not entered the building, “without doubt it would have collapsed”, French newspaper Le Monde reported.

Photos appear to show that at least one of the cathedral’s famed rose windows has survived, although there are concerns for some of the other stained-glass windows.

Franck Riester, France’s culture minister, warned that while the principal structure had been saved, the building was still unstable.

There were already fears about its stability, after cracks appeared in the stone.

Sections of the building were under scaffolding as part of the renovations and 16 copper statues were removed last week.

Individuals and groups are mobilising to help rebuild Notre-Dame. Hundreds of millions of euros have already been pledged.

Billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the Kering group that owns the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion brands, pledged €100m (£86m; $113m) towards rebuilding Notre-Dame, AFP news agency reports.

Another €200m was pledged by Bernard Arnault’s family and their company LVMH – a business empire which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora – on Tuesday morning, according to Reuters news agency.

The French charity Fondation du Patrimoine is launching an international appeal for funds for the cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Media captionFrench President Emmanuel Macron: “We will rebuild this cathedral”
Visiting the scene on Monday night, Mr Macron – who said the “worst had been avoided” with the preservation of the cathedral’s main structure – 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”.

Offers of help have also been pouring in from around the globe, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying he is happy to send experts to help restore the cathedral.

The British government is also looking into what it can do to help with its reconstruction, according Ed Llewellyn, the UK ambassador to France.

Spanish Culture Minister Jose Guirao said his country is also seeking ways to help – although, he added, “right now, above all, it’s about moral support, solidarity and from there, whatever they need”.

-BBC