In the aftermath of a tragic fire that ravaged Paris' historic Notre Dame Cathedral, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the landmark. Experts now plan to fortify what's left of the 850-year-old structure, and donations have already started coming in from French philanthropists and charities.
It took nine hours to extinguish the massive fire that broke out Monday evening. Over 400 firefighters took part in the effort to bring the fire under control, eventually putting it out altogether in the early hours of Tuesday.
Though fire crews initially said they "may not be able to save Notre Dame," they were able to preserve the main structure including the outer walls and the two bell towers. Photos from inside the cathedral taken Tuesday morning showed debris still smoldering around the altar. On Tuesday, a tweet surfaced showing the rooster from the iconic spire survived the fire.
People in France and around the world were in mourning over the damage, including the loss of the building's iconic spire and part of the roof. Artifacts and artwork in the cathedral were saved by Parisian fire services and the city's deputy mayor for tourism and sports, Jean-Francois Martins, and his team. They were able to salvage the Crown of Thorns, the Blessed Sacrament and other items. The rescued works were transported to the Louvre Museum for safekeeping.
"We made a human chain, with our friends from the church … to get, as quick as possible, to get all the relics," Martins told CBS News. "Everything is safe and undamaged, and in our really bad day, we had one good news."
'Everything is burning'
The fire started shortly after the cathedral closed around 6:45 p.m. local time, and grew quickly in windy conditions. The narrow streets, the heat of the flames and the Parisian landmark's positioning along the River Seine made it difficult for firefighters to get closer.
At around 7:53 p.m., the spire fell amid the flames. Less than 15 minutes later, part of the roof collapsed, Reuters reported. The island where the cathedral is located, Paris' Ile de la Cité, was evacuated just before 8:30 p.m.
"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame," Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told CBS News shortly after the blaze began.
Though President Donald Trump tweeted that "perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out," the civil defense agency of the French government responded that firefighters are using all means to combat the blaze, "except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral."
What caused the fire?
Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Île-de-France region in which Paris lies, confirmed Tuesday that the fire was an accident, although officials have not elaborated on the exact cause. Paris police said it may be linked to the $6.8 million renovation efforts underway.
No deaths have been reported, but one firefighter was reportedly seriously injured. The final damage estimate is likely to be extensive.
A city united
"Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn," Macron tweeted. France 24 reported that Macron is treating the fire as a national emergency.
In a tweet, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters were working to control the flames from the "terrible" fire and she urged residents and visitors to respect the security perimeter.