At the start of a roundtable discussion on the economy in Burnsville, Minn., Monday afternoon, President Trump responded to the devastating blaze that broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The president told the audience that he had been in communication with France regarding “the terrible, terrible fire.”
“It’s one of the great treasures of the world,” the president said. “It’s burning very badly. Looks like it’s burning to the ground,” Trump lamented to audible gasps in the audience. “They think it was caused by a renovation,” he added. “It’s a terrible sight to behold.”
Authorities say it appears that the blaze was started by work related to the renovation, but that will not be confirmed until a full investigation has been conducted.
The president earlier Monday tweeted his reaction to the raging fire, suggesting that fire fighters send in flying water tankers to drown out the flames.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” Trump wrote.
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
A water drop was reportedly considered, but France’s civil security agency decided using a flying water tanker would be unsuitable because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse. As it turns out, much of the structure appears to be collapsing anyway.
The defense agency said: “all means” except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.”
After the cathedral’s spire collapsed in flames, a church spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark was burning.
— Paris Match (@ParisMatch) April 15, 2019
First Lady Melania Trump responded to the blaze with her own tweet, saying her “heart breaks” for Parisians.
“Praying for everyone’s safety,” she said.
My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 15, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted about the fire, offering thoughts and prayers to the firefighters and the people of Paris.
Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames. Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris. https://t.co/5Pecbf02em
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 15, 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron shared his thoughts on Twitter as “Our Lady of Paris” continued to erupt in flames.
“Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” he wrote.
Notre-Dame de Paris en proie aux flammes. Émotion de toute une nation. Pensée pour tous les catholiques et pour tous les Français. Comme tous nos compatriotes, je suis triste ce soir de voir brûler cette part de nous.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
Later on Monday, Macron declared a national emergency.
The Vatican issued a statement late Monday lamenting the “terrible fire” that has “devastated” Notre Dame, saying: “The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
“The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of #NotreDame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.” @AGisotti pic.twitter.com/cRjUxkxRwa
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) April 15, 2019
The statement went on to say that the Vatican is praying for the firefighters “and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation.”
At one point, firefighters were indicating that they were getting the fire under control, but Monday evening, the fire chief said city firefighters may not be able to keep the fire from spreading and causing even more destruction to the iconic cathedral.
Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said his crews had been battling the blaze from both the exterior and interior. “We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading” to Notre Dame’s second tower and belfry, he said. Gallet added: “If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be.”
At a news conference in New York City, Cardinal Timothy Dolan addressed the Notre Dame fire, saying “this is a moment of tears for Notre Dame.”
STARTING NOW: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, addresses the fire at Notre Dame cathedral. https://t.co/kkZYnhN1fK
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 15, 2019
By late Monday, a crowd had gathered in Paris to sing and pray as the catastrophic fire raged on.
The crowd is singing outside Notre Dame. pic.twitter.com/N9uLV8reuI
— Dave (@daswickerman) April 15, 2019
As people throughout the world — both religious and non-religious lamented the tragic destruction of a profound icon of Christendom, others celebrated:
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) April 15, 2019
On a more positive note, most, if not all of the works of art inside the cathedral were saved and there were no casualties.
Live coverage of the the fire via Fox News: