Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame’s medieval roof structure, known as "the forest," has been lost to the massive fire, according to Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the cathedral.
“The framework from the 13th century is called a forest, because it required a forest of trees to build it,” he said.
The cathedral's wooden frame, which primarily consists of oak, contains beams that date as far back as the first frame. It features trees cut down between 1160 and 1170, forming one of the oldest parts of the structure.
Most of the current frame dates from the year 1220, according to the church's website.
According to the Notre Dame website, it’s one of Paris’s oldest frameworks. Learn more about the construction of the famous cathedral here.
Former vice president and potential 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden tweeted his thoughts on the blaze, which consumed large sections of the cathedral.
"For centuries, Notre Dame Cathedral has withstood wars, revolutions, and the test of time," the tweet reads, noting that the devastating fire occurred during Holy Week, the holiest week of the Catholic calendar. Biden calls it "a symbol of faith & a testament to history," adding that he believes it will be reconstructed, to "rise again."
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, a spokesperson told CNN on Monday.
Prosecutors will be investigating an "involuntary destruction by fire,” the spokesperson said.
French President Emmanuel Macron just announced that, starting Tuesday, he will launch an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Macron, speaking from the scene, described the fire as a “terrible tragedy," but added the “worst had been avoided." He noted that the cathedral's facade and two main towers did not collapse during the fire.
Watch Macron's statement below:
French-American François-Xavier Lochet, 70, was attending Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday when a loud alarm went off just as the congregation began the Universal Prayer -- it was so loud Lochet could barely understand the messages in French and English.
Most of those who heard it, however, just stood there as visitors began to be ushered out of the cathedral. That was until, Lochet said, a police officer approached a priest and told him, "This is no joke. You've got to get out."
Lochet began walking back to his mother's home when he turned around and saw smoke.
"Nobody was paying attention," he said. "I stopped and I took my phone out and I waited."
Soon, smoke began billowing out from the cathedral.
"To me. I felt like crying," he said. "This is my most favorite church probably in the world. To me, as a kid, I climbed the towers when I was 12 years old."
He could not help but think about the countless craftsmen who devoted their entire lives to constructing the church, even those who helped renovate it. He'd often go to Mass, or just to listen to the cathedral's organs.
"It's a huge piece of history of Europe," he said. "Gone."
He took this photo of the early flames. That spire, and much of the roof on which it sat, would later fall:
It's past 11 p.m. in Paris, but the crowds of Notre Dame mourners haven't gone anywhere -- many are still gathered outside the cathedral, praying and singing hymns.
Some are on their knees; at one point, a group broke out in a haunting rendition of the "Ave Maria."
They have been singing for almost two hours now, and the hymns are getting louder as more people join in.
Watch the scene here:
Both towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral “are safe,” said Laurent Nunez, secretary to the interior minister, hours after a massive fire toppled its spire, burned most of its roof and threatened the centuries-old art and architecture inside.
“The fire is now weaker. We are now in a time of cooling but both towers of the cathedral are safe. We're still working to save the cathedral's work of arts," Nunez told reporters at the scene.
One firefighter has been seriously injured, said Paris Fire Brigade commander general Jean-Claude Gallet. Gallet said that two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed.