PARIS, France (WIAT) -- Officials in Paris are treating the fire that destroyed most of Notre Dame Cathedral as an accident. French media are reporting the Paris fire brigade to believe it was "potentially linked" to a renovation of the church. Teri Okita has the latest. The cross inside the cathedral of Notre Dame is still standing even after a fire ripped through the centuries-old building. But its iconic spire eventually fell victim to the flames.
Dominique Bichon, an eyewitness, said "The spire started bending and crawling and, boof! We couldn't just believe what we're seeing. And then the flames went on and on and on."
Most of the roof of the church is destroyed, but officials say the cathedral's outer walls and two bell towers were salvaged. Four hundred firefighters battled to save the building. They were still spraying water this morning.
Agathe Perreau, a Paris resident, said, "Notre Dame is not just a building, it's the beating heart of Paris and seeing it like the open heart on the medical table, it's heartbreaking."
The mayor of Paris posted to Twitter that the crown of thorns and other major artifacts were saved. It's believed the crown was worn by Christ before the crucifixion.
Last night Parisians and tourists gathered in the surrounding streets to pray and sing hymns. French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild Notre Dame.
Andrew Crompton, architect of the University of Liverpool, "If they're lucky, they would have laser scanned the building which means they can make a virtual model which is very accurate. But of course, that would be a copy, not the same thing."
The church--built in the 12th century--was undergoing renovations to shore up its crumbling structure.