A major fire has engulfed the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France’s most famous landmarks. The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say. Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze as teams try to salvage the artwork stored inside. President Emmanuel Macron called it a “terrible tragedy”. The cause of the fire is not yet clear.
Officials say it could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable. Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened an inquiry into “accidental destruction by fire”. A firefighter was seriously injured while tackling the blaze. Visibly emotional, Mr Macron said the “worst had been avoided” and vowed to launch an international fundraising scheme to rebuild the cathedral. The fire began at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.
Some 500 firefighters worked to prevent one of the bell towers from collapsing. More than four hours later, fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the main structure had been “saved and preserved” from total destruction. Sections of the cathedral were under scaffolding as part of the extensive renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week. Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the building had suffered “colossal damages”, and teams were working to save the cathedral’s remaining artwork.
A Ben Foster howler and a needless Troy Deeney red card helped Arsenal climb back into the Premier League top four with victory at Watford. Goalkeeper Foster gifted the Gunners an opening goal after 10 minutes when he took too long on the ball after collecting a back pass, allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to charge down his clearance and deflect the ball in. Just a minute later, Watford captain Deeney was sent off for throwing his forearm into the face of Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira in a late challenge. Despite playing with 10 men for 80 minutes, Watford offered the far greater threat, hitting the bar through Adam Masina’s powerful drive from distance in the second half, and forcing Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno into a number of excellent saves.
The German denied Craig Cathcart well with his feet shortly after Deeney’s red card – and later in the first half dived at full stretch to tip away Etienne Capoue’s goalbound free-kick. Ainsley Maitland-Niles also produced a crucial block with 10 minutes remaining when he slid in to block Andre Gray’s shot after the Watford striker had rounded Leno. The visitors’ only real chance came midway through the second half but Foster brilliantly spread himself to block Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s volley from close range. The Gunners were well below their best but the rare away win could prove crucial in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League. They climb two places to fourth in the table, two points clear of Manchester United and ahead of Chelsea on goal difference.
Watford they were left ruing two foolish incidents within 95 seconds of each other. There seemed little danger when Foster collected a back pass just outside his six-yard box but he dawdled on the ball allowing the pacey Aubameyang enough time to close him down. Deeney’s foul was not vicious or particularly dangerous, but foolish and unnecessary. He chased down Torreira deep in the Arsenal half and after the Uruguayan had passed the ball threw his forearm into his opponent’s face.