The devastating blaze at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral has been fully extinguished, say firefighters after spending about 18 hours tackling the flames.
Daylight photos of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks have revealed the scale of the devastation as investigators probe the cause and fashion billionaires line up to help rebuild it.
More than 400 firefighters battled through the night to save the main structure, iconic towers and main works of art, finally bringing the inferno under control after nine hours.
They spent another nine hours hosing down pockets of fire and hotspots that were still smouldering as heartbroken Parisians and tourists gathered at sunrise to survey the damage.
After the blaze broke out on Monday evening, flames ate through the roof and sent the spire crashing to the ground as teams raced to recover treasures from the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and significant religious relics.
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Remarkably, only three people – two police officers and one firefighter – were injured as the fire engulfed the massive structure, and they were only “slightly” hurt.
Earlier, the fire brigade said it could take several days for crews to completely extinguish the remaining pockets of fire and secure the fragile structure.
However, it was announced on Tuesday morning that the blaze on Ile de la Cite, in the River Seine, had been fully extinguished.
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.
French President Emmanuel Macron said a national subscription would be launched to rebuild the national monument, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said a meeting will be held soon to discuss fundraising efforts.
Billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault, the richest person in Europe, announced his family and LVMH luxury goods group, which includes Louis Vuitton, Dior and Moet, will donate £173million.
It follows an £86million donation from Francois Henri Pinault, who heads the Kering luxury goods company, which includes the Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen brands, and is married to actress Salma Hayek.
Paris’ emergency services have been hailed for saving the main structure, towers, main works of art and religious artefacts including a relic purported to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross.
A hanging cross at the heart of the cathedral survived the inferno, surrounded by blackened walls, piles of what appeared to be the charred remains of the roof, and burnt pews in front of the altar.
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.
Notre Dame is one of Paris’s oldest and most recognisable buildings, and work began on it in 1163.
The original structure was completed nearly 200 years later, in 1345, and its name literally translates to “Our Lady of Paris”.
Some 13 million people now visit the Catholic landmark every year – more than 30,000 every day on average – according to its official website, and it is believed to be one of the most visited structures in the French capital.
Renovation works to fix Notre Dame’s historic stone walls and buttresses were estimated to cost around £130million.