French president vows to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral

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Notre Dame cathedral is pictured from the top of the Montparnasse tower, Tuesday April 16, 2019 in Paris.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Firefighters declared success Tuesday morning in an over 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof but spared its bell towers.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday in a televised speech to the nation that "we will rebuild Notre Dame cathedral even more beautiful." He said he wants to see the cathedral rebuilt in five years.


What remained was a blackened shell of the monument that had survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated amid renovation works at the start of Catholic Easter week. Its iconic twin bell towers remained visibly intact.

Paris officials said the world-famous 18th-century organ that boasts 8,000 pipes also appeared to have survived, along with other treasures inside the cathedral, after a plan to safeguard heritage was quickly put into action.

At dawn, the twin 69-meter towers swarmed with building specialists and architects, looking tiny from the ground as they conducted analysis.

"The entire fire is out," declared Paris firefighters' spokesman Gabriel Plus, adding that workers were currently "surveying the movement of structures and extinguishing smoldering residues."

The fire erupted Monday evening in the construction zone in the rear portion of the cathedral and then quickly engulfed the roof of the 12th-century cathedral, one of the world's most-visited landmarks.

The cathedral's structure had been saved, according to the Paris fire chief. The fire didn't spread to the northern belfry.

The mayor of Paris said that nearby homes have been evacuated just in case the cathedral collapses. Mayor Anne Hidalgo also said most of the artworks were safely removed from the church.

Government officials told French media that the fire, which began at 6:50 p.m. local time, does not appear to be arson or related to terrorism. The cathedral had been undergoing extensive renovations.

The sight stopped pedestrians in their tracks along the Seine River, which passes under the cathedral. Hundreds of people gathered on the bridges over the river to watch the terrifying and tragic sight.

"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 Vatican said in a statement.

FOX 5 NY produced this story from New York with information from Fox News and The Associated Press.