Europe

Notre-Dame blaze 'probably accidental'

Investigators will now begin determining the cause of the blaze at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris (AAP) Source: AAP

On the day after Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames, the cause of the now-extinguished blaze remains unknown.

Firefighters have doused the smouldering ruins of Notre-Dame with water, the morning after a raging inferno swept through the gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris as investigators tried to establish what started the fire.

Hundreds of firemen battled the blaze - which consumed the roof and collapsed the eight-centuries-old cathedral's spire - for more than eight hours before bringing it under control, saving its bell towers and outer walls.

A spokesman for Paris firefighters said that "the entire fire is out".

The Paris prosecutor's office said it had launched an inquiry. Several police sources said they were working on the assumption for now that the fire was accidental.

Firefighters who entered the burning cathedral saved many of its treasures, although some paintings remained inside and risked smoke and water damage.

The fire tore through the cathedral's timbered roofing, where workmen were carrying out extensive renovations to collapsed balustrades and crumbling gargoyles and the spire's wooden frame.

Hundreds of stunned onlookers lined the banks of the Seine river as the fire raged, reciting prayers and singing liturgical music in harmonies late into the night as they stood vigil.

President Emmanuel Macron promised France would rebuild Notre-Dame, considered among the finest examples of French Gothic cathedral architecture and visited by more than 13 million people annually.

"We will rebuild it together. It will undoubtedly be part of French destiny and our project for the years to come," Macron said outside the cathedral.

A centuries-old crown of thorns made from reeds and gold and the tunic believed to have been worn by Saint Louis, a 13th century king of France, were saved, Notre-Dame's top administrative cleric, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, said.

Copper statues representing the Twelve Apostles and four evangelists were removed by crane last week as part of the renovation work.

American tourist Susan Hargrove said she'd been left breathless by the scale of devastation.

"We are talking of world history, of our Western culture but also of something that is truly universal," she said.

"Notre-Dame means something to everybody."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch