The catastrophic fire that ripped through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was “potentially linked” to a $9.5 million renovation project on the church’s spire.
The exact cause of the blaze remains unknown, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying they were investigating whether it was related to the restorations.
The Paris prosecutors’ office has ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives, and said it was treating the devastating blaze as an accident.
The fire collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its landmark rectangular towers on Monday night.
Tourists and Parisians watched on aghast from the streets below as one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world was ravaged by flames.
As the spire fell, the sky lit up orange and flames shot out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world.
Images inside the cathedral show parts of the roof fallen away and piles of rubble on the ground.
French President Emmanuel Macron was treating the fire as a national emergency, rushing to the scene and straight into meetings at the Paris police headquarters nearby. He pledged to rebuild the church and said he would seek international help to do so.
Situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine river, its architecture is famous for, among other things, its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses.
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages as well as one of the most beloved structures in the world.
As it burned into the evening, firefighters battled to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing and tried to rescue religious relics and priceless artwork.
One firefighter was seriously injured – the only reported casualty.
Millions pledged to fix cathedral
Francois Henri Pinault, who heads the Kering luxury goods company, has pledged more than A$158 million to Notre Dame.
“My father (François Pinault) and I have decided to release from Artemis (holding company) funds a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame,” Mr Pinault said in a statement.
Mr Pinault is the husband of actress Salma Hayek.
French billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault’s family and his LVMH luxury goods group have also agreed to donated more than A$315m.