France is reeling today after a massive fire tore through Paris’s beloved Notre-Dame cathedral, a medieval church built 800 years ago and a celebrated landmark around the world. Parisians looked on in shock Monday as around 400 firefighters attempted to get the blaze under control—some onlookers engaging in prayers and religious songs. The fire claimed the cathedral’s spire and ravaged parts of the interior, but the iconic twin medieval towers remain standing, as does the rest of the stone structure. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral.
President Emmanuel Macron: “Well beyond our borders, we will appeal to the greatest talents, and many people will come to contribute to it. And we will rebuild. We will rebuild Notre-Dame, because that’s what the French expect and because it is what our history deserves, because it’s our underlying destiny.”
Two of France’s wealthiest men have already pledged over $330 million to the reconstruction effort. The European Union has also vowed to help rebuild the church. Authorities have launched an investigation into how the fire started, but ruled out arson, saying they believed it was started by accident, likely related to the ongoing $180 million renovation of the building. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with Johns Hopkins professor Anne Lester.