Fire spokesman says Notre Dame Cathedral secured

People take pictures of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Friday, April 19, 2019. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire this week, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — The Paris fire brigade spokesman says Notre Dame Cathedral has been secured and firefighters were to leave the site on Friday night.

Lt. Colonel Gabriel Plus told The Associated Press that “there is no more risk the edifice’s walls could fall down.”

He added that firefighters have been able to cool down the cathedral’s walls and the debris from the roof that fell inside the cathedral.

Plus said “It’s a miracle that both chapels on the side and the crypt remain untouched.”

The cathedral in the heart of Paris was devastated by a fire Monday evening that raced through its massive wooden roof.

Firefighters have been credited with preventing the building from burning to the ground in a “chain-reaction collapse” by aggressively protecting the wooden supports in its twin medieval bell towers from the flames.

The UN’s cultural agency said the reconstruction of Notre Dame must protect the universal value of the site but that it doesn’t mean the cathedral must be rebuilt exactly as it was.

A delegation from UNESCO, which oversees global heritage issues, met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday.

According to Macron’s office, UNESCO representatives said they were ready to help with the reconstruction of Notre Dame, especially by providing technical expertise.

UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said the monument’s “integrity and authenticity” must be respected, since it’s a World Heritage site, but that doesn’t mean the site must remain unchanged.

The comments were reported by Macron’s office.

UNESCO formally recognizes the right of each generation to participate in humanity’s heritage “including through adaptation to natural and historic processes of change and transformation” and “new possibilities offered by evolving technologies.”

The Paris prosecutor’s office is urging those making donations for the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral to be careful about scams aimed at extorting their money.

It says the Fondation du Patrimoine, one of the organizations collecting funds to rebuild the iconic monument, has filed a lawsuit after individuals “fraudulently” solicited money using its name through emails or phone calls.

The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation centered on the charge of conspiracy to defraud.

Officials say $1 billion in donations has already been pledged to rebuild Notre Dame, sent in by people ranging from ordinary citizens to billionaires.

Top French art conservation officials say the works inside Notre Dame suffered no major damage in the fire.

Also, the art pieces have been removed from the building for their protection.

Isabelle Palot-Frossat of the center for research at the French Museums said neither fire, nor soot, nor water reached inside the cathedral’s walls.

The fierce fire Monday evening was concentrated on the cathedral’s roof and destroyed its famous spire.

Judith Kagan of the French Culture Ministry said that many of the artworks span several yards across and were being transported to a secure location.

Frank Riester, France’s culture minister, said the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling is still “in an emergency situation.” Officials will have to carefully remove the debris that is weighing it down, cover the ceiling against the elements and dismantle the scaffolding that had topped the cathedral when it caught fire.