Notre Dame, the famous Catholic Cathedral that's stood in Paris for more than 800 years, caught fire around 1:50pm ET, resulting in the collapse of its 300-foot spire and extensive damage to its medieval wooden frame. No deaths or injuries have been reported though one firefighter was injured battling the blaze. Many priceless works of art were saved as crews had time before the fire reached ground level, but some works, like many stain-glass windows were not so lucky.
While the source of the fire is still unknown, early reports speculate that it might be related to ongoing renovation work on the cathedral. According to CBSN, this past week workers had taken town statues that climb up Notre Dame's spire in order to work on the structure.
The fire was finally extinguished on Tuesday morning.
Construction began on the cathedral in 1160 and was completed nearly two centuries later. In its history, the tower stood over world-changing events like the French Revolution, the crowning of Napoleon Bonaparte, and served as the scene for one of Victor Hugo's most famous novels. Within its halls, a mass was held in 1944 to celebrate the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany. Its place in French history cannot be overstated.
Notre Dame has been threatened with collapse before. A report in 2017 stated that "experts say Notre-Dame, although not at risk of sudden collapse, has reached a tipping point — and an expensive one at that" and reported a $180 million price for appropriate repairs. Much of that money has come from American donors in love with French culture and how the cathedral embodies the nation.
Nearly 13 million people visit Notre Dame every year, or about 30,000 a day, according to The Times. Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire says "their thoughts have already turned to rebuilding" and that they've already "received help from people around the world to help Paris rebuild Notre Dame," according to CBS.
Monday evening, while the fire still burned close by, French President Emmanuel Macron committed France to a likely years-long project, saying "I’m telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together."