The iconic spire at the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has collapsed after a major fire broke out Monday. Video showed part of the roof of the cathedral collapsing into itself as the fire rages on.
"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame," Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told French media, according to the Associated Press. By Monday evening, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters he believes firefighters have managed to save the cathedral's landmark rectangular towers from the blaze.
Gallet said, "We now believe that the two towers of Notre Dame have been saved," Reuters news agency reported. "We now consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved." There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, he said.
A deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered "colossal damages." President Emmanuel Macron came to the scene to view the damage and meet with emergency officials.
The Sécurité Civile of France, part of the French Ministry of Interior, said hundreds of members of the Paris Fire Brigade were doing everything possible to get the fire under control and save the historic structure. The agency said in a tweet, "all means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral."
French President Emmanuel Macron: "We will rebuild."
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday night. Macron called the fire a "terrible tragedy" and confirmed that the cathedral's stone facade and two main towers avoided collapsing during the destruction.
"I'm telling you all tonight -- we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders," Macron said.
Fire a "tragedy for the world"
Christophe Girard, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture, said the massive fire at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral is a "tragedy for the world." He spoke with CBSN as the fire continued to burn, and said that some priceless paintings and other artifacts have been saved.
Dramatic photos of fire's destruction
Dramatic videos and photos spread across social media on Monday showing the roof and spire of the nearly 900-year-old cathedral engulfed in flames and massive amounts of smoke billowing up from its roof.
The spire and roof collapsed, and the cathedral's world-famous stained glass windows were destroyed.
The Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine where the cathedral is located, was evacuated. Thousands of onlookers gathered along the banks of the river to watch the awful scene.
Priceless art and artifacts inside
Some of the treasures inside Notre Dame were reported saved, although officials have yet to release a full inventory of what was saved from the fire and what was lost. A centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold, and the tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France, were safely retrieved, Notre Dame's top administrative cleric, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said, according to Reuters. But firefighters had struggled to take down some of the cathedral's large paintings in time, he said.
The Holy Crown of Thorns is displayed during a ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in this file photo from March 21, 2014. The relic was woven from thorn branches believed to have been placed on Jesus Christ during the events leading up to his crucifixion.PHILIPPE WOJAZER / REUTERS
Cause under investigation
Authorities have not yet released any information on the cause of the fire and said it would be investigated. The fire may potentially involve renovation work that was being carried out at the site, the fire service said. Extensive scaffolding covered a portion of the roof as part of the $6.8 million project before the fire broke out.
Vatican expresses "great shock and sadness"
The Vatican expressed "great shock and sadness" about the fire at Notre Dame, which occurred during Holy Week leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It called the cathedral "a symbol of Christianity in France and in the world."
In a statement, the Vatican said, "We express closeness to the French Catholics and the people of Paris and we assure our prayers for the firefighters and those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation."
The Parisians are going to want someone's head for this.