French writer and historian Camille Pascal said Monday the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has caused “the destruction of invaluable heritage” and “we can be only horrified by what we see.”
Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV: “It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris” and its bells pealed for both “happy and unfortunate events.”
He recalled that Notre Dame’s bells sounded a death knell after the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.
Authorities are investigating if renovation work on the cathedral’s fire was a factor in starting or spreading the fire.
On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for cleaning for the first time in over a century, and therefore escaped the blaze. They were part of a restoration of the monumental Paris church’s towering spire, which dramatically collapsed during the blaze.
On April 11 a 100-meter-high (105-yard) crane lowered the copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists onto a truck, giving the public a ground-level look for the first time.
The figures regular posts look over Paris from Notre Dame’s 96-meter-high peak.
The three-meter-tall statues are being sent to southwestern France for work that was part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the cathedral spire and its 250 tons of lead.
Consumed by the flames, the spire collapsed during the blaze.
The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, told BFMTV that first responders were trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.
A cathedral spokesman has said the entire wooden interior of the Notre Dame is burning and likely to be destroyed.