Notre Dame burns but billionaire pledges funds for rebuild
A catastrophic fire has engulfed and partially destroyed the majestic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. But within hours of the blaze being contained, a French billionaire promised 100 million euros to help with its restoration.
The fire began in the early evening and burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.
The cathedral's famous spire collapsed, but a French official and the Paris fire chief said they believed the iconic towers had been saved and that the cathedral's structure was "saved from total destruction". However, two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged".
The fire is, so far, being treated as an accident.
Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.
One firefighter had been seriously injured in the blaze.
French billionaire François-Henri Pinault said he and his family would donate money to help reconstruct the cathedral.
"My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame," Mr Pinault said.
Notre Dame was bulit in the 12th and 13th centuries, taking 200 years to build. It is the most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages and is an integral part of france's identity.
The cathedral is renowned for its architecture, especially for its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses. It is also home to countless celebrated artworks, including its three stained-glass rose windows and a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is usually displayed on Fridays during Lent.
Luckily, the cathedral's significant collection of artwork and holy objects had been recovered, said Paris Mayor Anne Hildago, and residents were evacuated.
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral, but said he would need international help to do so.
"Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," said Mr Macron.