400 firefighters battle ‘difficult’ Notre-Dame fire


Paris, France | AFP | 

Around 400 firefighters were attempting to stop the destruction of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday evening, describing the blaze as “difficult” to handle.

Crowds look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. – A fire broke out at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said.Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe. (Photo by ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)

Dozens of fire vehicles were at the scene while high-pressure hoses could be seen spraying water onto the collapsed roof and nave area, suspended from cranes.

“We are not sure we can stop the spread to the northern tower,” junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez warned reporters, referring to the two stone towers at the front of the Gothic masterpiece.

Read: UNESCO says ‘at France’s side to save and restore’ Notre-Dame

“If that collapses, you can imagine the scale of the damage,” he added.

US President Donald Trump had suggested on Twitter that “flying water tankers” could be used to put out the blaze.

“Dumping water from a plane on this type of building would risk bringing down the whole edifice,” France’s Civil Security agency wrote on Twitter.

Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the BFM news channel that firefighters had entered the cathedral and had brought out some of its priceless artworks.

But they had been forced to withdraw as the flames spread rapidly through the wooden beams holding up the roof.

Read: ‘Paris is disfigured’: Tears and shock as Notre-Dame burns

“At the moment, the priority is to control the blaze on the inside and to protect the facade,” he said, three hours after the fire broke out at around 6 pm (1600 GMT).

“Obviously we fear the worst in terms of damage given the scale of the fire.”

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“It’s a difficult fire,” a fire official told AFP at the scene.

The interior ministry said 400 firefighters were in action in a statement on Twitter.

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© Agence France-Presse


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