THE DEAN of Worcester Cathedral has offered an emotional message of support to the people of Paris following the catastrophic blaze which ripped through Notre-Dame, devastating the 850-year-old Gothic landmark.
Crowds of horrified Parisians gathered along the River Seine to watch as the inferno took hold on Monday evening, tearing down the historic roof and sending the iron spire, weighing an estimated 750 tonnes, crashing to the ground.
Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.
Brave firefighters worked through the night to preserve its structure and their heroic efforts were rewarded when the fire was extinguished just after 9am yesterday (Tuesday).
In a statement to the Observer, the Very Rev Dr Peter Atkinson (pictured) said: “Our hearts go out to the people of Paris after this terrible disaster. We are a smaller cathedral than Notre-Dame, and Worcester is a smaller city than Paris, but we know how significant a cathedral is in the life of its city and neighbourhood.
“Cathedrals gather into themselves the joys and sorrows of the whole community. It is a relief to know the basic structure of Notre-Dame has survived and it appears that rebuilding is possible.
“It is especially poignant this took place at the beginning of Holy Week, in which we remember a death, but also celebrate a resurrection. As Notre-Dame again rises from the ashes, may that be a symbol of hope to people everywhere,” he added.
While the spire and roof have collapsed, the main structure of the cathedral, including the two iconic bell towers, has been saved, according to officials.
France’s culture minister said the ‘most precious treasures’ had been saved following the blaze, including the crown of thorns Catholic relic and the tunic of Saint Louis.
Franck Riester said other works were being transferred to the Louvre where they will be dehumidified, protected and eventually restored.
Worcestershire county councillor Chris Bloore was in Paris when the fire broke out and spoke to the Observer about the ‘unbelievable’ scenes in the French capital.
“The fire was clearly getting through the wooden structure and I saw two explosions. I saw the two turrets fall and then saw the spire and roof had collapse.” he said.
“People just gasped when that happened.”
Coun Bloore praised the bravery of the estimated 400 firefighters who worked through the night to save the building.
“The job they have done has been amazing,” he added.
A firefighter was seriously injured tackling the blaze and prosecutors’ have opened an investigation into the fire, examining whether renovation work on the landmark could have played a part in the destruction.