Inside Notre Dame as fire rages through cathedral roof

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Inside Notre Dame as fire rages through cathedral roof

Pictures from inside Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral offer some hope that the majority of the building has been saved following a catastrophic fire.

The blaze 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.

Flames and smoke are seen as the interior continues to burn inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

A large hole can be seen in the roof of the cathedral (Picture: Reuters)

epa07509113 General view of the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral as flames are burning the roof cathedral in Paris, France, late 15 April 2019. A fire started in the late afternoon in one of the most visited monuments of the French capital. EPA/YOAN VALAT

It is hoped that the majority of the cathedral can be saved (Picture: EPA)

Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)

Smoke pictured around the altar of the cathedral as firefighters worked on stopping the flames spread further (Picture: AP)

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.

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

It is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire (Picture: Reuters)

Flames and smoke are seen as the interior continues to burn inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

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 (Picture: Reuters)

BGUK_1550709 - ** RIGHTS: ONLY UNITED KINGDOM ** Paris, FRANCE - General Views of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire. A fire erupted at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying the roof and its iconic spire. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, collapsing the spire. The cause is yet unknown but officials said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. Pictured: Notre-Dame Cathedral fire BACKGRID UK 15 APRIL 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: BEST IMAGE / BACKGRID UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*

The first harrowing images from within the fire-ravaged cathedral began to emerge as firefighters brought the blaze under control (Picture: Backgrid)

Paris Fire brigade members are seen at an entrance that looks into the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Ashes can be seen falling in the background (Picture: Reuters)

ABACA Press via Press Association Images. View from inside the Security area with the firefighters during the Notre Dame Cathedral?s fire in Paris on April 15, 2019. Photo by Eliot Blondet/ABACAPRESS.COM

(Picture: Abaca/PA)

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 pledged 100 million euros (£86 million) 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.’

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.

An image taken from a television screen shows an aerial view of the Notre-Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019, in the French capital Paris. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

An aerial view made for grim viewing as the cathedral appeared to be completely alight (Picture: AFP)

This photo shows Notre-Dame Cathedral, missing its spire after it collapsed during a fire, in Paris early on April 16, 2019. - A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is "under control", the Paris fire brigade said early on April 16 after firefighters spent hours battling the flames. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images

This morning the Notre Dame’s stone structure appeared to be largely intact (Picture: AFP)

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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, were 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.

Firefighters douse flames billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON / AFP)THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

(Picture: AFP)

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

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.

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 150 million euro (£130 million).

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