As the fire that ravaged Notre Dame was extinguished, French officials revealed that the structure of the 850-year-old Parisian cathedral is sound.
The fire destroyed the wood-and-lead roof and destroyed a spire, which was captured via numerous social media videos. Following an inspection on April 16, three “holes” were spotted in the vaulted ceiling, reported the New York Times.
Meanwhile, photos shot from inside the center of the cathedral showed that the damage wasn’t as severe as previously thought.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stated to Le Monde that there was “a big hole in the roof.”
“The altar and its cross are preserved. It’s not as bad as I feared,” she added, as reported by the New York Post.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that nothing suggests the fire was deliberate, reported the Times, adding that it would be a “complex investigation.”
“Nothing at this stage suggests a voluntary act,” he continued.
Meanwhile, another official, Valerie Pecresse, told ABC News: “When you see it from the outside, it’s still standing, and that is quite a miracle.” Pecresse said it is a testament to firefighters battling the blaze throughout the night.
Still, watching the blaze tear through the building was “like tearing our hearts apart because the cathedral is the heart of Paris,” the official told ABC. “It’s like when your home is burning and the whole people of France was crying and the cries had no color, no name, no race, no parties, but the whole of France was really upset,” she continued.
The fire broke out at around 6:50 p.m. local time on April 15 and spread along the cathedral’s roof. At the time, it was undergoing a $170 million renovation project.
Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire noted that officials experienced an “enormous relief” when the purported Crown of Christ and other religious relics were salvaged, reported The Associated Press.
Some were taken to a “secret location” following the fire. Some statues, which were removed days before, were also spared, he said.
Vow to Rebuild
President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild Notre-Dame, considered among the finest examples of European Gothic architecture, visited by more than 13 million people a year, Reuters reported.
Notre-Dame is owned by the state. It has been at the center of a years-long row between the nation and the Paris archdiocese over who should finance badly needed restoration work to collapsed balustrades, crumbling gargoyles, and cracked facades.
It was too early to estimate the cost of the damage, said the heritage charity Fondation du Patrimoine, but it is likely to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The rival billionaire owners of France’s two biggest luxury fashion empires, Francois-Henri Pinault of Kering and Bernard Arnault of LVMH, pledged 100 million euros and 200 million euros to the restoration respectively. Oil company Total pledged 100 million. The city of Paris said it would provide 50 million.
Reuters contributed to this report.