PARIS - Update 4/16/19, 11:30am
Some will call it a miracle. According to Notre Dame's heritage director, only one piece of architecture inside the sacred building has been damaged.
Laurent Prades told The Associated Press that the high altar, which was installed in 1989, was hit and harmed by the cathedral's spire when it came crashing down in the flames. "We have been able to salvage all the rest," said Prades, who witnessed the recovery first hand overnight.
"All the 18th-century steles, the pietas, frescoes, chapels and the big organ are fine," he said. Among the most famous elements inside the cathedral, Prades added that the three large stained-glass rose windows have not been destroyed, though they may have been damaged by the heat and will be assessed by an expert.
An official from the French Interior Ministry says 400 firefighters are at the scene of the fire but might they not be able to save Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Laurent Nunez, speaking to reporters at the scene, says the devastating fire is not limited yet to a certain area and might continue to expand. He says cause of fire at the cathedral is unknown.
The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep the fire at Notre Dame from spreading and causing more destruction.
Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said outside the iconic cathedral as his crews battled 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.
Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."
Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame's towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96-meters-high (315-feet).