Notre Dame Cathedral fire: French officials say cause unknown, but being treated as accident for now

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PARIS — The cause of the massive blaze tearing through the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was unknown, but it was being treated as an accident for now, according to French authorities.

On Monday evening, about 400 firefighters battled the large fire as flames and black smoke filled the sky. As the blaze progressed, the 315-foot spire collapsed.

French President Emmanuel Macron treated the fire as a national emergency and rushed into meetings with local police as soon as he arrived in the city.

The fire chief of Paris said that firefighters were able to save the landmark rectangular towers from the intense blaze. 

The country’s civil security agency said all means of firefighting except for water-dropping aircraft were used to fight the fire. The agency said dropping water on the building would cause it to collapse. About two-thirds of the building’s roof was heavily damaged.

French media also quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the blaze might be linked to the $6.8 million renovation that was being done to the church’s spire. Authorities were investigating if the renovation work was a factor.

By late Monday, the Paris prosecutors’ office said investigators were treating the fire as an accident and ruled out arson as well as any terror-related motives. Prosecutors said police will investigate “involuntary destruction caused by fire.”

No deaths were reported.

The centuries-old gothic-style cathedral is home to dozens of works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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