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Prosecutors say no sign of criminal act in Notre Dame Cathedral fire

PARIS, France (AP) - Update 4/17/2019:

The Paris prosecutor's office says the investigation into the Notre Dame Cathedral fire has not produced any indication so far of a criminal act. The probe is still in its early stages.     

The office on Wednesday said investigators had been able to access some parts of the building to begin their on-site work.     

Meanwhile, "about 10" more people have been questioned by police, bringing the total to about 40. 

The Culture Ministry's fire expert, Jose Vaz de Matos, told reporters that part of the triangular structure above the central rose window is to be taken down "to limit the movement" of the stone.     

De Matos said the main risk to the cathedral is the gables above the rose windows, which provide crucial support to the stained glass masterpieces.     

He said the structure is particularly exposed to the wind, and the overall structure remains fragile.      Police officials told The Associated Press that the triangular structure is leaning 20 centimeters forward toward the street since the fire.       

A Paris fire official says the towers of Notre Dame would have fallen if firefighters hadn't deployed massive equipment and acted swiftly.     

Philippe Demay denied there was any delay and said firefighters acted as fast as they could.     

Demay told reporters that the operation was extremely difficult and that the towers could have collapsed "if we hadn't put heavy equipment in place."       

Paris firefighters say Notre Dame Cathedral's rose windows are in good shape after a devastating fire, but that their support structures are at risk.

Update 4/16/2019 10 am:

Tuesday morning we are awakened by the good news that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris remains struturally sound after the mammoth fire that spread through the 850 year old church Monday.

With the fire extinguished, officials are beginning the investigation process to determine the cause of the fire. 

In less than 24 hours comapnies like Total and L'Oreal and governments such as Greece and Japan are offering large sums of money and human capitol to see that Notre Dame is fully restored. 

Greece's government has offered France assistance in restoring fire damage to Notre Dame cathedral. The culture ministry said Tuesday that Greece is willing to provide academic experts and skilled technicians from its own restoration projects if help is needed.

The ministry has extensive experience with major conservation and restoration works on Greece's ancient and mediaeval monuments, including a decades-long program on the Acropolis of Athens.

The chief architect of Cologne cathedral says it could take decades to repair the damage caused to the Notre Dame cathedral by a massive fire.     

Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in the German city, told broadcaster RTL on Tuesday that "it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired."     

Cologne cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II and work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.     

Fuessenich called the fire in Paris "a tragedy with a European dimension" as many churches and cathedrals across the continent were inspired by buildings in France. He said that "when the last stone was set in Notre-Dame, the first one was laid here in Cologne, and in this respect it affects us all very much."     

According to Fuessenich, the timbered roof of Cologne cathedral's was replaced with an iron frame during the 19th century, meaning a fire there would be less devastating. 

 

Update 4/15/2019 at 6pm:

A French official and the Paris fire chief say they think Notre Dame Cathedral's landmark rectangular towers have been saved from the fire that caused horrific damage.     

Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said late Monday that authorities remain "prudent" but are "much more optimistic" than earlier in the night.     

Paris fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.     

Gallet says two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged." He says one firefighter was injured. He says fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.   

The mayor of Paris says people who live near Notre Dame Cathedral have been evacuated in preparation for the burning structure's possible collapse. But Mayor Anne Hidalgo said late Monday that firefighters were optimistic they could keep the towers that bookend the famous cathedral from going up in flames.     

The fire chief in Paris went even further, saying his crews managed to stop the flames from reaching the belfry and prevented a catastrophic collapse.     

Hildago says the significant collection art work and holy objects kept inside the church has been recovered.     

Parisians have gathered to say prayers and sing hymns In front of the nearby Saint Julien Les Pauvres church as the massive blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral burns only a few hundred meters away.     

Flames and smoke rose in the sky behind the singers. A couple hundred people kneeling in prayer at the center of a larger group, who are standing around the edge and joining in the hymns between the prayers.     

Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit is inviting priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers for Notre Dame. 

Original Story 4/15/2019 at 1pm:

According to Paris police, there is a a fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at Notre Dame from spreading and causing more destruction.     

Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled the blaze from both the exterior and interior: "We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry.     

Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."     

Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame's towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96-meters-high (315-feet).  

The Vatican has issued a statement about the "terrible fire" that has "devastated" Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.     

The Vatican said: "The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world."     

The statement says the Vatican is praying for firefighters "and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation" on Monday.     

It also expressed "our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris, and we assure our prayers for firefighters      

French President Emmanuel Macron is treating the fire gutting Notre Dame Cathedral as a national emergency.     

Macron reached the landmark cathedral on Monday evening and went straight into meetings at the nearby Paris police headquarters.     

France's civil security agency says "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.     

The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse. 

 

 

 

 


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