Gallery: Notre Dame, the day after

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption'I was playing at Mass when the fire broke

Philippe Goujon, the mayor of Paris' 15th Arrondissement, told reporters gathered outside Notre Dame Tuesday that Fournier insisted he be allowed into the smoldering building with firefighters.

The Paris cathedral was half an hour from collapsing when it was saved by firefighters, The Times reports.

It was followed on Tuesday by a 200-million-euro pledge from Kering's rival luxury conglomerate LVMH and the family of its founder Bernard Arnault, France's richest person.

Professor Peter McPhee, a specialist in French history at the University of Melbourne, said he feared "that the sheer heat of that fire may have chemically compromised some of the masonry" in the historic building.

Though "some weaknesses" in the 850-year-old structure had been identified, overall it is "holding up OK", he added.

"One of the most moving things was to see all the French people who were there that were singing French hymns and songs, it was deeply moving", he said.

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Mailhot recalls that people rescued items from the St. Boniface Cathedral as the roof burned, and apparently the same thing happened at Notre Dame.

The Crown of Thorns, regarded as Notre Dame's most sacred relic, was among the treasures quickly transported after the fire broke out, authorities said.

Because of the statue's damage, it was not yet possible to verify if the Crown of Thorns fragment or the other relics were still inside, the official said.

Notre-Dame was in the midst of renovations and industry sources said the contractor would have its own liability policy.

Support came from outside France as well, with Apple chief Tim Cook announcing the tech giant would give an unspecified amount to help restore a "precious heritage for future generations".

A church community in Northumberland County is reflecting on the massive fire that tore through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday as it has a very personal connection to how the people of Paris are feeling today.

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"The cathedral ruins are still one of the more popular tourist destinations an Winnipeg and Manitoba. Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored", Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, told AP.

Specialised craftsmen and rare materials are expected to be needed to restore Notre Dame, which is seen as an emblem of France and, more broadly, a symbol of Western civilisation that has survived revolutions and war.

"What we saw last night in Paris was our capacity to mobilize and to unite", Macron said, hailing France as a nation of "builders".

Parisian Beatrice Champetier arrived to lay flowers - it was the least she could do, she said, for a building that "is our life".

The cost of a likely multi-year restoration project could itself take a year to become clear, industry experts said.

He pledged that Notre-Dame would be rebuilt.

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