PARIS – Throngs of tourists admired Notre Dame de Paris from across the water on Wednesday. The most visited monument in the most visited country in the world stands tall on a small, now inaccessible island in the Seine at the center of Paris.
The iconic cathedral will be closed to visitors for the next five or six years, a church spokesperson announced. French officials said $1 billion had already been raised to rebuild "Our Lady of Paris."
The local prosecutor said nearly 50 investigators are assigned to the case. They have interviewed 30 people so far, including several who were working on cathedral renovations just before the fire started.
A police source told NBC News a computer glitch may have delayed first responders on Monday. After the first fire alarm sounded at the cathedral at 6:20 p.m., firefighters were mistakenly sent to the wrong section of the roof.
The 1,000 or so visitors celebrating Mass at the time evacuated Notre Dame immediately, but the fire was not found until 23 minutes later when a second alarm sounded.
The fire burned for 15 hours, fueled by the forest -- 1,400 years-old oak beams supporting the roof, much of which collapsed along with the spire and sections of the stone ceiling.
But the pipe organ, the facade, famous bell towers, walls, buttresses and stained glass windows remained, though the full extent of the damage is unclear.
Many relics the cathedral was meant to preserve and protect also survived. The crown of thorns believers said Jesus wore during his crucifixion, along with a piece of wood and a nail believed to be from his cross, were saved.
The official cause of the fire is accidental. French officials consider the building insecure and fragile. No restoration work has begun.
Around the world, many who have visited Notre Dame shared their memories and photographs on social media, including many from Houston and elsewhere in Texas.
Notre Dame has always been known for the beautiful music performed inside, among other things. Now it’s silent. Outside, a small choir from Paris sings “for our lady, for Notre Dame.” They come to the bridge every night since the fire to “sing our faith.”Posted by KPRC2 Jacob Rascon on Wednesday, April 17, 2019
We have arrived at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Some encouraging news! Nearly $1 billion has already been raised to rebuild. A police source tells NBC News that a computer glitch might have sent firefighters to the wrong side of the cathedral roof after the first fire alarm. That may be why no fire was found until a second alarm was triggered 23 minutes later. The fire brigade will hold it’s first press conference soon at the cathedral, and we’ll be there. The cause is believed to be accidental. The Paris Prosecutor has assigned 50 or so investigators to the case. They’ve talked to about 30 people so far, including those working on cathedral renovations just before the fire started. If you know anyone from Houston in Paris, please tag them below! We’d love to talk to them. If you’ve ever visited Notre Dame and don’t mind sharing a photo we can use on the shows, post below! You can also send me a private message.Posted by KPRC2 Jacob Rascon on Wednesday, April 17, 2019
The Notre Dame rector now says “Our Lady of Paris” will be closed to visitors for five to six years. French officials say nearly $1 billion has already been raised to rebuild the cathedral. pic.twitter.com/tKwc3Ej4fE— Jacob Rascon (@KPRC2Jacob) April 17, 2019
Boarding our flight to France where there is hope that the Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt, but also so much sadness at such loss. The focus of so many around the world, including in Houston, is riveted on this iconic medieval building, especially during what many commemorate as Holy Week or Easter week. We will bring you those stories and more starting on Wednesday. Look for updates here, on Instagram and Twitter at @KPRC2Jacob and on Click2Houston.com.Posted by KPRC2 Jacob Rascon on Tuesday, April 16, 2019