French President Emanuel Macron is looking to rebuild the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral after a disastrous flame engulfed it and destroyed its spire and much of its interior and roofing.
Shortly after 500 members of the Paris fire brigade and other fire rescue teams finished their 12-hour fight and declared victory over the flames, Macron said via ABC News, “They are fighting with courage and determination. Your country thanks you.”
“The worst has been avoided, although the battle is not yet totally won,” he continued via USA Today.
Macron via ABC News described the fire as a “terrible tragedy.” He lamented over the lost history and promised Parisians that he would rebuild the cathedral.
“So I say this very solemnly to you tonight: We will rebuild this cathedral together and it is undoubtedly part of the French destiny and a project for the years to come,” the French president. “But I am committed to it.”
He continued: “Starting tomorrow, a national fundraiser will be launched and well beyond our border we will appeal to the greatest talents and many people will come to contribute to it. And we will rebuild.”
“We will rebuild Notre Dame because that’s what the French expect and because it is what our history deserves because it’s out underlying destiny.”
According to ABC News, it did not take long for members of the French community to rally behind the rebuilding and restoration effort as two French billionaires offered a combined $300 million euros to help.
“French billionaire Bernard Arnault and his conglomerate LVMH have pledged 200 million euros, according to The Associated Press, and François-Henri Pinault, another French billionaire, said he and his family would donate 100 million euros, according to Buzzfeed,” ABC News reports.
Construction on Notre Dame initially began in 1163 and the fire destroyed much of the intricate furnishings and the original masonry, ABC News reports. An effort to rebuild the cathedral could take up to ten years.
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An architecture professor at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, told ABC News it may take five to seven years for the cathedral just to recover from the blaze.
“The original building took over 100 years to actually come together, piece by piece,” Krupali Krusche said in an interview. “It will be done. But a recent project in Europe of that scale has taken up to 10 years to produce.”
Although largely famous for its ornate exterior stonework, most of the cathedral’s interior was wood, which fed the flames like a “cooker,” she added. But even masonry that survived the fire may be terribly damaged.
“Once a fire starts in the center or the heart of the building, it’s pretty easy to, you know, completely take away the core of the building,” Krusche explained. “And this situation was that of a cooker, basically, where you’re getting the fire in the heart of the plate, and it starts growing and growing. The flames went very high yesterday … and engulfed the whole heart of the of the church.”
Parisians came together in the fire’s aftermath to sing a song of hope for the city, to show resilience amid the tragedy, Reuters reports.
The Washington Post reports the cathedral “was partially consumed in just hours Monday, as thousands of Parisians stood sentinel on the banks of the Seine, singing ‘Ave Maria’ and weeping at what was happening.”
Not just the heart of Paris, or France — although it is — the church has stood tall as a triumph of humanity for eight centuries.
“Parisians lose their Dame,” read one French headline. In Strasbourg, the city’s great cathedral tolled its bell for 15 minutes Tuesday morning in solidarity.
Speaking on French radio early Tuesday, Culture Minister Franck Riester said many priceless works of art in the cathedral were saved and that Notre Dame’s organ had survived. He also confirmed preliminary reports from firefighters that they had been able to save the church’s two most hallowed relics: a tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-century French king, and the crown of thorns that Jesus is said to have worn.
According to the report, money to restore Notre Dame has poured in to France from all over the world:
Some donors said the outpouring showed the importance of a building that had become emblematic of faith, art and of France itself.
French officials planned to launch a national collection drive for the reconstruction. French luxury magnate François-Henri Pinault declared that his family would dedicate about $113 million to the effort. Hours later, the family of Bernard Arnault, the CEO of the LVMH luxury conglomerate and the richest man in Europe, pledged a gift of $226 million.
On Tuesday morning, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo floated the idea of an “international donor’s conference” that would unite philanthropists and restoration experts in Paris to raise money for targeted purposes in rebuilding Notre Dame. One expert said the reconstruction effort could take decades.
Several French people who had started smaller crowdfunding campaigns described on Tuesday being moved by the gestures.