Macron wants fire-ravaged Notre Dame rebuilt within five years
The inferno that raged through Notre Dame cathedral for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers, and a frantic rescue effort saved the monument’s “most precious treasures”, including the relic revered as Jesus’ Crown of Thorns, officials said Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the beloved Roman Catholic architectural landmark, and wants to see it completed within five years.
“We have so much to rebuild,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation. “We will rebuild Notre Dame cathedral even more beautifully. We can do it, and once again, we will mobilise [to do so].”
Authorities consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of restoration work at the global architectural treasure that survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated in the blaze on the second day of Holy Week.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the inquiry into the fire would be “long and complex”. Fifty investigators were working on it and would interview workers from five companies hired for the renovations to the cathedral’s roof, where the flames first broke out.
Heitz said an initial fire alert was sounded at 6:20 p.m. on Monday but no fire was found. The second alert was sounded at 6:43 p.m., and the blaze was discovered on the roof.
Investigators have already questioned nearly 30 people, said a Paris judicial police official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to comment on an ongoing probe.
“Notre Dame has survived the revolutionary history of France, and this happened during building works,” said influential former Culture Minister Jack Lang.
News that the fire was probably accidental has done nothing to ease the national mourning for the symbol of national pride. Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil prayer across the Seine from the cathedral, singing and listening to music by a string quartet.