“France is the oldest ally of the United States, and we remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame’s bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “Those bells will sound again. We stand with France today and offer our assistance in the rehabilitation of this irreplaceable symbol of Western civilization. Vive la France!”
Trump referenced the blaze repeatedly on Monday during both public appearances and on social media. During a stop at a trucking company in Minnesota on Monday, the president expressed his shock and sadness at the news of the fire – calling the famed cathedral “one of the great treasures of the world.”
Along with Trump, numerous other world leaders offered their condolences to France in the aftermath of the fire, including Pope Francis, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.
Monday’s fire collapsed the spire and burned through the roof of the 12th-century building, sparking an outpouring of grief and reminiscing of visits to the Parisian landmark.
Macron has pledged to rebuild a cathedral that he called “a part of us” and appealed for help to do so. The church is home to relics, stained glass and other incalculable works of art and is a leading tourist attraction, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it was treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now. French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire was “potentially linked” to a 6 million euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the spire and its 500 tons of wood and 250 tons of lead.
Despite the dramatic image of the flaming cathedral, no one was killed. One firefighter was injured, among some 400 who battled the flames for hours before finally extinguishing them. Firefighters continued working through the night to cool the building and secure the monument, as residual sparks sprinkled down from the gaping hole where the spire used to be.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.