France’s Notre-Dame Cathedral devastated by fire

Paris: A fast-moving fire consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday in a massive, roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, a searing loss for the city and for France.

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watching from the other side of the River Seine gasped as the spire folded over onto itself and fell into the inferno.

President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweeted.

The first stone of the Notre-Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris”) cathedral was laid in 1163 in the reign of Louis VII, as the medieval city of Paris was growing in population and importance, both as a political and economic center of the kingdom of France.

Construction would continue for much of the next century, with major restoration and additions made in the 17th and 18th century. The stonework and stained glass of the edifice recreate images and lessons from the Bible.

Dominating the structure are its two 13th century bell towers. The so-called “bourdon”, the largest bell, goes by the name of “Emmanuel”. Reuters