The Latest: French leader vows to rebuild damaged Notre Dame

By – Associated Press – Monday, April 15, 2019

PARIS (AP) – The Latest on a fire at in (all times local):

11:35 p.m.

French President has promised to rebuild and says he is seeking international help to restore the landmark.

said after ’s fire chief announced the emergency response had changed into a monitoring and mop-up operation, “The worst has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won.”

said a national fundraising campaign to restore would be launched Tuesday and he called on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.

The French leader credited the “courage” and “great professionalism” of firefighters with sparing Notre Dame’s facade and two landmark towers from being destroyed.

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11:15 p.m.

The prosecutors’ office says investigators are treating the blaze that destroyed part of as an accident for now.

The prosecutors’ office said late Monday they have ruled out arson in Monday’s fire, including possible terror-related motives for starting the blaze.

Prosecutors say Paris police will conduct an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire.”

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11:05 p.m.

A French official and the fire chief say they think Notre Dame Cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.

Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said late Monday that authorities remain “prudent” but are “much more optimistic” than earlier in the night.

fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.

Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame’s roofing “has been ravaged.” He says one firefighter was injured.

He says fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.

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10:50 p.m.

The mayor of says people who live near have been evacuated in preparation for the burning structure’s possible collapse.

But Mayor said late Monday that firefighters were optimistic they could keep the towers that bookend the famous cathedral from going up in flames.

The fire chief in went even further, saying his crews managed to stop the flames from reaching the belfry and prevented a catastrophic collapse.

Gallet says one firefighter was injured.

Hildago says the significant collection art work and holy objects kept inside the church has been recovered.

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10:30 p.m.

Parisians have gathered to say prayers and sing hymns In front of the nearby Saint Julien Les Pauvres church as the massive blaze at burns only a few hundred meters away.

Flames and smoke rose in the sky behind the singers. A couple hundred people kneeling in prayer at the center of a larger group, who are standing around the edge and joining in the hymns between the prayers.

Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit is inviting priests across to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers for .

Aupetit is at the cathedral and will meet with French President later Monday night.

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10:20 p.m.

An official from the French Interior Ministry says 400 firefighters are at the scene of the fire but might they not be able to save in .

Laurent Nunez, speaking to reporters at the scene, says the devastating fire is not limited yet to a certain area and might continue to expand. He says cause of fire at the cathedral is unknown.

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10:05 p.m.

A group of Americans from Maine had just finished visiting and were in a nearby park when they heard it was on fire.

Freeport resident Lucy Soule, 22, said it was “weird” having been in the church right before this happened. “Now you can smell it burning.”

Soule and her father, Win Soule, 58, and Libby Heselton, 53, are on a weeklong trip to where they planned to “see all the sights” and had just finished their visit to . They had been in the cathedral at 5:30 p.m., about an hour before the fire.

Win told The Associated Press “Now I feel sorry for the people tomorrow. They won’t be able to see it.”

He says “it’s incredible. I’m not religious, but this is clearly very important to a lot of people.”

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9:50 p.m.

The fire chief in says it’s unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at from spreading and causing more destruction.

Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled the blaze from both the exterior and interior: “We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading” to Notre Dame’s second tower and belfry.

Gallet said: “If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be.”

Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame’s towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96-meters-high (315-feet.

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9:40 p.m.

The Vatican has issued a statement about the “terrible fire” that has “devastated” in .

The Vatican said: “The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in and in the world.”

The statement says the Vatican is praying for firefighters “and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation” on Monday.

It also expressed “our closeness to French Catholics and the population of , and we assure our prayers for firefighters

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9:05 p.m.

French President is treating the fire gutting as a national emergency.

reached the landmark cathedral on Monday evening and went straight into meetings at the nearby Paris police headquarters.

’s civil security agency says “all means” except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.

The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.

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9:00 p.m.

The mammoth fire that destroyed the spire of has spread to one of the church’s landmark rectangular towers.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of Monday’s fire in watched the flames blazing behind an oblong stained-glass window in the tower.

Paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put the flames out while others work from the exterior. Red smoke is pouring out of the cathedral.

A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church’s entire wooden interior was in flames.

French President has arrived at .

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8:35 p.m.

French writer and historian Camille Pascal says a massive fire at has caused “the destruction of invaluable heritage” and “we can be only horrified by what we see.”

Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV: “It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over ” and its bells pealed for both “happy and unfortunate events.”

He recalled that Notre Dame’s bells sounded a death knell after the November 2015 terror attacks in .

Authorities are investigating if renovation work on the cathedral’s fire was a factor in starting or spreading the fire.

On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze.

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8:30 p.m.

French President says the fire consuming is taking part of everyone in with it.

tweeted after the blaze broke out in the cathedral’s spire on Monday he was sad to see “a part of us being on fire.”

He extended “thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French.”

His administration says is heading to .

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8:20 p.m.

The deputy mayor of says has suffered “colossal damages” from a fire that started in the spire and caused it to collapse.

Speaking to BFMTV, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said first responders now trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.

A cathedral spokesman has said the entire wooden interior of the is burning and likely to be destroyed.

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8:15 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted about the fire engulfing ‘ iconic .

Trump wrote on Twitter after the fire broke out Monday: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at in ” and made suggestions for how first responders should tackle it.

He said: “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out,” adding: “Must act quickly!”

Firefighters were trying to contain the fire when the cathedral’s spire collapsed. Authorities say the wooden interior now is burning.

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8:05 p.m.

The soaring spire of in has collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman says the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark is burning and likely to be destroyed.

A massive fire engulfed the roof of the cathedral in the heart of on Monday afternoon as Parisians watched in horror.

Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame.”

The cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

The cause of the blaze isn’t yet known, but scaffolding could be seen on the roof of the burning structure. The spire was undergoing renovation.

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7:55 p.m.

Police in say the cause of the massive fire enveloping the spire of isn’t yet known.

’s police department said no deaths have been reported from Monday’s fire. The police department didn’t say anything about injuries.

The peak of the 12th century cathedral is undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.

French media quoted the fire brigade saying the fire is “potentially linked” to the renovation work.

Located on the Ile de la Cite in the center of , the Gothic cathedral is among the most famous from the Middle Ages and was built on the ruins of two earlier churches.

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7:45 p.m.

French President has postponed a televised speech to the nation because of a massive fire enveloping the top of in .

Flames are shooting out of the roof behind the nave of the 12th cathedral, one of the world’s most visited landmarks.

The sight stopped pedestrians in their tracks along the Seine River, which passes under the cathedral.

Authorities said the fire could be linked to renovation work. It’s unclear if anyone has been hurt in the fire.

’s pre-recorded speech was set to be aired later Monday on French TV. was expected to lay out his plan to address the citizen complaints that gave rise to the yellow vest protests that have rocked since November.

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7:35 p.m.

Mayor says firefighters are trying to contain a “terrible fire” at the city’s Notre Cathedral.

An AP reporter at the scene of Monday’s fire says the roof at the back of the cathedral, behind the nave, is in flames and yellow-brown smoke and ash fill the sky.

urged residents of to stay away from the security perimeter around the Gothic-style church. The mayor says city officials are in touch with Roman Catholic diocese in .

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7:30 p.m.

Firefighters are battling a massive blaze at ’s iconic .

Flames and black smoke were seen shooting from the base of the medieval church’s spire on Monday.

The peak of the church is undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.

French media quoted the fire brigade saying the fire is “potentially linked” to the renovation work.

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