The Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Paris' most beloved attractions, caught fire yesterday evening, at approximately 5:50 p.m GMT.
Images and video of the fire began pouring in across social media, depicting the cathedral's roof engulfed in flames and billowing smoke.
As the world watched, thousands of people took to social media expressing grief, sorrow, and disbelief that such a major part of the city's history was crumbling before their eyes.
Many people were expected to arrive at the cathedral for Easter Weekend this Sunday.
History reduced to ashes
Reports say that the blaze began at the back of the cathedral and spread to the roof, where the iconic spire collapsed, leaving the almost-900 year old landmark practically unrecognizable from the back. The cathedral was currently undergoing a $6M renovation to preserve some of the gargoyles and other facades that had begun to crumble.
At this time, investigators do not have an official cause for the blaze, but suspect it was an accident, possibly connected to the work that was being done to restore the church. No deaths have been reported at this time, however Global News reports that one firefighter was taken to hospital for injuries sustained battling the blaze.
More than 400 firefighters were on scene to tackle the fire and save Notre Dame from total collapse.
This live stream on CBS News covered the fire in real time, and features more than four hours of extensive coverage, including the moment the spire toppled.
Highly-flammable and priceless works of art, including oil paintings, tapestries, and precious stained glass are known to be inside the Notre Dame.
While firefighters initially feared that anything that was not stone wouldn't have survived, some good news has sprung from the ashes.
The two stone towers on the west side, constructed in the 13th century, were spared. However, the entire roof, constructed from oak wood in the 13th century, was totally destroyed, and only a skeleton of the frame remains.
The Pompiers de Paris, Paris' fire brigade, Tweeted that the main structure of Notre Dame had been saved, as had the "main works of art".
1/2 #Intervention #NotreDame : la structure de la cathédrale est sauvée et les principales œuvres d’art ont été sauvegardées, grâce à l'action combinée des différents services de l'État engagés à nos côtés. pic.twitter.com/0GJZKAdYdM— Pompiers de Paris (@PompiersParis) April 16, 2019
Additionally, they released another Tweet earlier this morning showing the extent of the ordeal, as they worked into the night to extinguish the fire.
The Notre Dame has a page on its website called "The masterpieces of Notre Dame" which lists all of the treasures inside, from organs, to bells; statues, paintings, tapestries, and more.
The CNN has reported that the trio of rose stained glass windows which hang over the cathedral's main portals have been saved, as has the original Great Organ from the Medieval Times.
More reports are expected to surface this afternoon, and throughout the week as French officials investigate the scene.
Donations pour in
France's president, Emmanuel Macron has promised Parisians that the Notre Dame will be fully-restored, saying via a Tweet:
"This Notre-Dame cathedral, we will rebuild it. All together. It's part of our French destiny. I commit myself: tomorrow a national subscription will be launched, and well beyond our borders."
Cette cathédrale Notre-Dame, nous la rebâtirons. Tous ensemble. C’est une part de notre destin français. Je m’y engage : dès demain une souscription nationale sera lancée, et bien au-delà de nos frontières.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
Global News reports that "two of France's wealthiest men, Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the Kering group which owns brands including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and Bernard Arnault, the main shareholder of luxury group LVMH, said they would donate 100 million euros ($113 million) and 200 million euros respectively. The city of Paris pledged 50 million euros."
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