PARIS – The huge blaze that has devastated Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris has been extinguished, the city’s fire service announced on Tuesday, around 15 hours after it first broke out.
“The whole fire has been extinguished. Now we’re in the phase of investigating,” spokesman Gabriel Plus told reporters, adding that the fire had spread “very quickly” through the wooden roof of the world-renowned monument.
Briefing reporters in front of Notre-Dame in central Paris, Plus said firefighters had focused during the morning on the cathedral’s two massive bell towers and making sure they had not been damaged.
“That is the case,” he said.
The task now is to monitor the structure, to see if it has moved at all and to put out remaining hot spots, he said, adding that about 100 firemen will remain on site for the whole day.
Pledges to donate millions of euros in cash and materials poured in Tuesday in the aftermath of the fire.
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed the emblematic church will be rebuilt after its spire and roof collapsed Monday night in a blaze thought to be linked to extensive renovation work.
French billionaire Bernard Arnault announced Tuesday that he and the LVMH luxury conglomerate he controls would give €200 million ($226 million) for the reconstruction efforts.
The pledge came after Arnault’s crosstown rival Kering, the fashion group founded by fellow billionaire Francois Pinault, offered €100 million to help “completely rebuild Notre-Dame”.
The privately run French Heritage Foundation has already launched a call for donations to help restore a “symbol of French history and culture.”
Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region comprising the greater Paris region, said it would provide €10 million.
And the head of a French lumber company told FranceInfo radio that it was ready to offer the best oak beams available to rebuild the intricate lattice that supported the now-destroyed roof, known as the “Forest”.
“The work will surely take years, decades even, but it will require thousands of cubic metres of wood. We’ll have to find the best specimens, with large diameters,” Sylvain Charlois of the Charlois group in Murlin, central France, told the radio.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Tuesday proposed organising an international donor conference to coordinate the pledges to restore the gothic architectural masterpiece.
The United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO has also promised to stand “at France’s side” to restore the site, which it declared a world heritage site in 1991.