tv Shepard Smith Reporting FOX News April 15, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
of paris, reduced to burning rubble. for those of you watching on fox television stations across the nation, we'll return you to regular programming. our coverage continues on fox news channel on satellite and cable now. >> shepard: the breaking news. 3:00 on the east coast. noon on the west coast. 8:00 p.m. in paris. the cathedral at notre dame is burning to the ground. the fire began just about, we believe, three-plus hours ago and has raged out of control ever since. we have pictures of the spire collapsing as it did more than an hour ago. largely the cathedral at notre dame is no more. the front of the building, the stone edifice, which is the site of so many pictures and
photographs of the more than 30,000 daily visitors still stands. there it is. but the cathedral itself behind it and all of the priceless artifacts that it contained appear to be from the camera's eye largely lost. benjamin hall has been watching with us from our regional newsroom in london. benjamin, the fire brigades arrived more than an hour ago to begin pumping water on the building but it appears their efforts are in vain. >> that's right. what we're hearing is access was so difficult in those early couple of hours. first of all, there were so many people gathered there. they evacuated notre dame quite early on. they didn't evacuate much of the area around it. although the local authorities asked people to move back, quite the opposite and.
many people went down there and knowing the recovery was underway, they had to go see this symbol of their city burning. many of them in tears at this site. now we're seeing some of the hoses getting up there on cranes. again, because of the height of this cathedral, they couldn't reach some of those top parts and because of those wooden beams inside that held up that roof, once those burned and they burned quickly, the whole thing just came tumbling down inside. as you've been pointing out, that spire making it so symbolic. this cathedral has survived over 800 years, multi-wars, the nazis. for it to be brought down by what could have been -- we don't speculate on this, but the current thinking is it had to do with the restoration that was taking place in the back in the
roof. they thought they had it out. they started to bring boats. notre dame is on a cathedral. that wasn't going to work. they considered helicopters and planes. but because the weight of that would have brought down the walls and hit people in the surrounding areas, they decided that couldn't be done. we got reports that two lone firemen made it up to the middle part of the facade follows by more. now we gather there's hundreds on the scene. some of them trying to put out the fire. many trying to save the precious not just art work but relics. everything in notre dame cathedral has a name. the bells, the gargoyles, the artwork. they mean so much to the church and the catholic church and the country and the people around it. i was is a soloist in notre dame as a young choir boy. everybody that visited that cathedral has memories of it.
it appears that all will be left is that shell, the wooden shell. the one piece of good news is that nobody appears to have been hurt, nobody appears to have been killed. that's coming from the authorities. still, until the fire is put out, it will not be safe. there will be falling debris throughout that majestic arch and throughout the middle. >> shepard: and the unfortunate news, if we could drop the banner for the moment, if you see on the right-hand side of the screen for the first time, you can see water going into the iconic rectangular towers. the one on the right-hand side as you look at it, the massive fire in paris has spread to one of notre dame's iconic rectangular towers. that word just in from the associated press. there's reporters watching on scene, this is what we hoped wouldn't happen. but three hours in now, it has.
the united nations cultural agency said they stand at france's side to save and restore the cathedral, describing it as a priceless heritage. the secretary general of unesco said, the blaze has consumed the spire and largely the rest of the place. according to the french health officials, there were no deaths. the cathedral closes at 6:45 p.m. and the fire started five or six minutes after. so it's just passed 9:00 in paris. we're three hours into this now. the fire started 15, 20 minutes after the facility closed for the day. france 24 reporter on the ground says she spoke to an elderly man that was practically in tears and said he never thought he would see this happen in his lifetime. many people in the crowd staring silently at the cathedral.
part of the renovation of the building. 16 copper statues were unhooked and descended from the cathedral thursday. so thursday of last week, to be restored, and that's the first time that they had been detached from their support since their original installation in 1860. thus those 16 copper statues were saved from this fire. if anything else was saved at this moment, we don't know about it. germany's chancellor, angela merkel has offered her support to the people of france calling notre dame a symbol of french and european culture. germany's foreign minister said the fire was hitting the hearts of the people of germany and said, "our thoughts are with all the emergency services and our french friends." a.p., as i mentioned, reports that the fire has spread to the
iconic rectangular towers and has begun on the one as you would look at the front on the right-hand side there. the flames still very much out of control. six passed 9:00 in the evening. the fire brigades have been working to try to put out this fire to the degree possible. by the time they began putting water on it, if there was much to be saved, it was hard to see through the camera lens as we've been watching. notre dame is known as our lady. it's really like watching your mother burn says a good catholic watching from inside our building this afternoon. by the tens of thousands each day they came and now notre dame largely no more. it is clear that the world will chip in to the degree possible to restore this -- to restore,
but i say to the degree possible. it's a fire burning for three hours in a largely wooden structure. leaves very little hope that much can be salvaged from this place. i believe trace gallagher is along with us and has been watching. darkness has set on the city. lighting up the picture at the moment, trace. >> it's amazing, shep. we cover breaking news, we talk about context and perspective. as you watch the flames burn there, it's important to know when you talk about the fuel that is fuelling this fire, we were just looking it up. they say inside the cathedral of notre dame, there are 52 acres of timber. that's what was used to build this over 800 years ago. in fact, the inside of the cathedral was nicknamed "the forest" because there was so much wood. gives you a perspective of how this thing has burned so strong for so long.
firefighters really having very little effect because this wood, you know, when you're talking about 900-year-old wood, not only is it bone dry but there's a ton of it to burn. so now it appears the strategy is to try to protect those outside buildings and in some cases, as you mentioned, shep, they're not having much luck doing this. they say this is the most religious religiously building aside from the vatican. we're six days away from easter sunday. the cathedral at notre dame, our lady, holds 9,000 people. so 9,000 people inside. then you have thousands more outside that will gather for the celebration of either mass. don't forget, there are numerous masses.
five, six, seven on easter sunday. upwards of 100,000 people that planned on celebrating easter services on sunday at this cathedral. that apparently will not happen now. the question is, what is plan b. where do these people go. clearly that's not at the top of the docket for what their concerns are right now. we also talked a lot about this restoration, this renovation project. $6.8 million. i was reading about it. we talked about the statues that they took away, the 16 statues including st. andrew. they're hundreds of years old and precious and taken away several days ago. a $6.8 million renovation, when you have to go detail by detail. you can't pound a single nail until the arch diocese gives their okay. everything has to be done specifically and perfectly. remember, this is the cathedral of the arch diocese of paris.
so this is to paris what st. peter's basilica is to rome, to the vatican. it's that kind of structure. $6.8 million. when you look at the stadiums being built here in los angeles and around the country, billions and billions of dollars for these structures, $6.8 is a modest restoration project. they wanted to get more money and do much more intensive work over the years, but this was just really to be a months long kind of facelift for the cathedr cathedral. you can see the pictures that are definite stating to everybody. they're heart rendering to catholics, as part of the religion is just unbelievable to watch, shep. >> shepard: thanks, trace. tray fey now, a french historian
from belmont abby college in charlotte, north carolina. it's hard to imagine what we're watching, isn't it? >> it is absolutely devastating. that is true for obviously everyone, the french, catholic and all of the many americans that travel to paris. this is the number 1 destination. devastating. >> shepard: could you give us a sense for catholics all that was in this building, the priceless works of art and beyond? >> yeah. there is really no way to calculate the loss for catholics and previously as your previous guest said, coming up to easter when there would be so many thousands of people going to the cathedral for easter.
one of the unique things about the cathedral is that it is controlled jointly by the french state and the catholic church. the state owns the building, but gives its use to the catholic church which is responsible for its upkeep. because of that, it's a symbol of the french state and for catholics as well. during the french revolution, the cathedral had been attacked by anti-clerical forces. was partly destroyed. it was derelict until the 1830s when victor hugo wrote his novel "the hunch back of notre dame." that made it on the public radar. the french government decided to restore it in the 1840s. in the 1850s, the area around
the cathedral was opened up so you can get the view that is open today. that's why it's a major tourist attraction and symbol of the city of paris for so many millions of people. >> shepard: anyone who has been inside knows there's no place you can look where a piece of history did not sit or hang. >> absolutely true. especially true of the bell towers. i understand that the fire is spreading to those now. the bells in the bell tower, again, another important symbol for catholics. each of those bells has a name, a god parent and has tolled at various times in history for significant religious and secular events. >> shepard: stay with us if you would, troy feay from belmont abby college in charlotte.
we have this new dispatch which has just come in from france 24 with the headline "paris is disfigured, crowds of stunned tourists and parisians. many watched in horror as flames engulf the cathedral. gasps and cries of oh my god erupted at 7:50 p.m. local time when the top portion of the spire came crashing down. more gasps came when the rest of the spire collapsed." "paris is disfigured. the city will never be like it was before" said felipe, a communications workers in his mid 30s who biked over after being alerted by a friend. it's a tragedy. if you pray, now is the time to pray. police were attempting to clear pedestrians from the two islands
including one which houses the soaring gothic church. many tried to approach snarling traffic as they massed on the stone bridges that lead to the islands. it's finished. we'll never see it again said jerome fautry a 37-year-old who has had to come to watch. quoting again, now we need to know how this happened. with everything going on in the world, why notre dame? maybe it's a message from on high, he said. one police officer arriving on one of the bridges turned up to gate and said, oh, my god. that from france 24. a news agency which is allowing to us use its pictures tonight. paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put out the flames while others work from the exterior.
earlier i said they're putting water on the building, which they are, there's water coming from win. so the firefighters are able to get to certain areas to try to save parts of the cathedral. it was constructed during the rain of king louis vii and begin in 173 and completed in 1365. 200 years from start to finish. in 1431, henry vi was crowned inside the cathedral. in 1804, napoleon was crowned emperor of france. in 1909, joan of arc was beatified by pope pius x. and french troops celebrated in the cathedral after liberating paris from germany in world war
ii. in 1970, the funeral for charles de gaulle was attended by president nixon inside this cathedral. and now in 2019, this cathedral is reduced to ruins. the french civil defense and crisis management agency said why they can't use helicopters. "helicopter or airplane, the weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could weaken the structure and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity. the paris mayor quoting now. "i don't have a strong word to express the pain that i feel in the face of notre dame flames raged. tonight all mourn this emblem of history. from our motto, we will draw strength to rise."
the paris mayor just a short time ago. now we know that emmanuel macron has arrived on scene as well. that is the latest of the updates as the fire continues to burn. troy faey is with us again from belmont abby college in charlotte, north carolina. you wonder if the catholic church going through so many different times at the moment will be able to do anything to restore whatever is left here, troy. >> i'm sure there will be every restoration effort possible made and i'm sure that some restoration is possible. but the time it will take and the care and the expense will be immense. the other thing is that this is something that can bring catholics together despite the difficulties in the church and various factions in the church, this is something that everybody
can come together and bore the tragedy of. the other concerns, on the interior, the holy relics that i'm sure they're making attempts to save. many probably will be lost. the cathedral is a place where many important catholic figures have been buried. so terrible loss. but hopefully something that can bring catholics together and will lead to every possible restoration effort. >> shepard: thanks, troy feay. on the right-hand side of your screen, the streets are around and authorities on the streets. 20 minutes past 9:00 now and except for emergency workers,
the island is largely cleared. expressions of sympathy and grief coming in from the met, metropolitan museum of art in new york city. the met and the collective cultural community are watching in shock and horror at the fire engulfing notre dame cathedral. it goes on, "we're sending our support and strength to the people of paris". the french ministry have said that 400 firefighters have been mobilized. quoting now, "an exceptional device was put in place to put out the fire" meaning they're trying to move a device in that direction and asked for the clearing of roads as the flames continue to roar on the left-hand side of the screen. we know like all fires, this began very small in this 850-year-old landmark in a
construction zone in the rear according to authorities. but we do not know what efforts were made to put it out in the early going or how exactly it spread so quickly. we do know the building is largely surprised of wood. much of that wood is some 850 years old. it would stand to reason that fire would spread quickly under those circumstances. date line paris from the associated press at the scene of notre dame heads in to meeting with paris police. that just in to us from the associated press. we had told you that largely the cathedral itself was wrapped in scaffolding as they were working on a restoration project, which was to have lasted for many years. quoting france 24, the
scaffolding has started to collapse from the inside. the press association reports that comments made by the american university students studying in paris, ashley huntington who rein to the scene, quoting "you could just get close and see the smoke. the smoke is everywhere in the sky. it seems like more pieces of the scaffolds are currently falling. it looks like it's out of control. i have never seen a fire in real life but the flames get bigger and bigger. i don't think it's getting better at all. the place are making sure that the public is cleared away and keep getting pushed further and further as the scaffolding around our lady, the cathedral at notre dame, is now collapsing." this is the scene outside the perimeter. you can see the fire vehicles in the distance there. we're getting continuous
updates. really nothing of great substance as firefighters are working to put out flames and others have been -- we were informed at least working to save whatever they could from inside the building to whatever degree they were successful, we don't know. largely the cathedral itself is lost and the front area, the flames had spread to the front at last report from the fire brigades there on scene. the associated press said the fire spread to one of the iconic rectangular towers along the front as the french president just headed in for meetings with paris police. so the pictures tell the story at this hour. these are the crowds congregating around the exterior. french police on france 24, the fire supervisors that are crowding about, continuing to put water on the old structure.
probably many realizing there's very little left to save. benjamin hall is with us now three hours and 20 minutes into this fire. benjamin, the flames continue? yeah, as you've been saying, we got the sense an hour ago that the flames were dying down but they appear to have gone back up again and lighting up the skies over paris. speaking to people on the ground. there are still people heading down that direction. again, access is what we keep talking about. they have not been able to get as many devices as close to the cathedral as think need to do. we're also learning that because of this delay, an investigation is already underway to see what didn't happen, what could have happened faster. that will continues in the days and months ahead. notre dame, of course, is such a famous site. they prepare for events like this. there's in fact an old water
reservoir between the two towers on the facade. it's there specifically so in this event. there's water high up near the fire, again, it will be interesting to see how that was president accessed faster. lots of talk right now of fund-raising. at this point it's widely accepted the entire wooden are structure is lost and they'll be looking at how to restore this magnificent symbol of france. one of the other things they've done, evacuating the residential areas around it. it's a small island that notre dame sits on. the northwest is residential. the closest point, some apartments and they've been evacuated from the island and moved to a big conference center a few streets away. again, it was that process that took so long. evacuating the island, pushing people back from notre dame now
that its happened. we have to wait and see what can be saved from this now. shep? >> shepard: benjamin, thank you. oliver is here with us. he's with feature story news, which is a news agency which sometimes with whom we work. he's live across the river. tell us what you see, oliver. >> so shep, the flames are still lighting up the sky here in paris outside of where we are. there must be 30 to 40 people along the river trying to catch a glimpse of what is going on. the island of notre dame has been evacuated. the residential flats are 10 or so meters away from the inferno. the people on the streets are shocked, this is a national
symbol, a huge tourist destination. this is engrained to most children's minds that have ever watched that disney movie, the hunch back of notre dame. as it happened, i've been interviewing the gentleman who is in charge of the charity called the friends of notre dame only last week. he said they were trying to raise 150 million euros, probably in the tune of around 170 million u.s. dollars to try and get this cathedral back to where it needed to be. it hasn't been renovated since really the past 200 years. what was happening is the roof was -- what this gentleman said, the risk of collapse. the walls were under the risk of collapse because the limestone of which this is made of had been eroded by acid rain. they were trying to raise the mother. the french government stepped up 40 million euros. the rest they were trying to raise. they raised 3 million euros.
this came from u.s. ben factors, very rich donors, including the former google ceo, eric schmidt. so they had been try toing get the roof ready. they had been starting to put up the scoff folding. i don't know if you can see that over my shoulder. looks as if the police are indicating this could be where the accident is taking place. renovation work that was urgently needed. big questions going forward why all of that money wasn't donated by the french state at an earlier time. >> shepard: thanks, oliver. our friends with sky news are now interviewing people that were watching this in real time. this destruction happening before our eyes. >> it was a fire that normally happens, but the whole wooden structure or the whole rooftop, i thought oh, my god this isn't
really happening. when the hour started being on fire and collapsed and we all heard this awful sound meaning the ire. >> thank you very much. speaking for hundreds of people on the northern banks. they describe what they're saying here. that spire as it fell in was emotional. people crying out. >> shepard: again, some of the witnesses who were being interviewed by sky news. we thank them for allowing us to hear from those witnesses. we're watching from france 24 now with a new view through the scaffolding, through the facilities of france 24, which is another of the rims, not the one on the air at the moment. france 24. live pictures into the center of
notre dame cathedral. you can see some of the scaffolding around it has collapsed. our understanding is that the fire has diminished because the fuel has largely been burned. in other words, the structure itself has been burned to the degree there's nothing left to burn. there was an extraordinary scene a short time ago outside the cathedral as people -- if i may, paid their respects. let's listen. ♪ >> shepard: in song, in witness to the destruction of the cathedral at notre dame. the sunset quite a while ago in paris. this is the light in the night
sky. it's our understanding that people have gathered by the thousands along the banks of the river. we saw some of them through the facility of sky news a short time ago. sky news also replaying the moment the spire collapsed. i'm sure at some point we'll get that together for you. its hard to imagine what we've been witnessing throughout the day. the facility closes prior to 6:00 in the evening. there's the pictures now. the fire began just -- well, they were. the fire began a short time after the facility closed to tourists for the day. it closed at quarter till the hour. according to the paris officials, the fire began about four or five minutes after. the details of the original fire
have not been given to us yesterday. we're expecting that at some point after the mayor, after the french president macron finishes his meeting with french fire authorities. eye witnesses say that the smoke began to billow first and then they saw the flames lapping around the spire itself. then engulfed the upper part of the structure there at notre dame. and then the fire began to drip in to the center of it and eventually engulfed all of it. an eye witness said he was having a drink at a local cafe. there's many round and about there. stand after stand to pick up trinkets and momentos. famously places where you can get -- food stands all around and people selling memories of the place.
so many people gather in restaurants. one said he was having a drink at a local cafe. he said it's like watching a best friend die and the cathedral was the most beautiful thing imagined. he walked passed it every day just just justin trudeau said it's heart breaking to see this. jonathan hunt has been watching along with us. jonathan to you. >> shep, it's just devastating to watch what really is one of the most iconic sites in one of the most iconic cities in the world burn to the ground like this. i stood outside the front of notre dame with my wife and
three children just a few months ago taking the pictures that so many millions and millions of tourists have taken over the years. i can also tell you, back in my college days, spent a summer as a tour guide taking tourists around paris. the eiffel tower is obviously iconic as an image of paris. notre dame has all of the history on top of that iconic statue. it was always for the tourists that i used to take around there, one of the most emotional and important stops on that tour that we used to do. so many people drawn to it for so many reasons. religion obviously, history obviously. just a real symbol of paris. our heart aches to the people of paris and france tonight that are seeing one of their most beloved symbols literally burn to the ground.
we heard some reports, shep, of the flames flicking towards those two front towers. just to imagine if that facade was to come down, too. it would be such a devastating loss for that city, the country and indeed the entire world. it's hard to overstate just how important a symbol that is for so many people, shep. >> shepard: jonathan, you wonder how in the world they'll be able to -- or what in the world they can salvage from this location. from the reports that we're getting all around, it appears that the wooden structure is gone. >> yeah. if you know the interior of it and as trace reported accurately, just how much wood is involved in that interior. you have to imagine the pretty much all of that is burned. you're just left with what is a
partial shell of some of the stones there, shep. it's going to be absolutely devastating. you can put a financial figure on it obviously at some point. but it's not possible to put a price obviously on what it means to so many people. there's also a lot of questions asked, shep, about the response here. notre dame sitting on the little island in the middle. it is difficult to approach. it's over narrow bridges. you have the seine on two sides of it and bending around to the other side. there's buildings between the river and the cathedral itself there. on two sides of it, you can approach it directly. obviously going to be questions as to why they couldn't get some sort of firefighting boats in there. never mind the commuter traffic on the streets. it's hard to see that they're not better equipped. we had the tweet from the president talking about air
tankers. that obviously very different to fighting a wild fire. you can't drop tons of water on a building like that without possibly doing more damage that is explainable. why they didn't get more resources in there more quickly will be a question that a lot of people are asking in the coming days, shep. >> shepard: no doubt they will be. jonathan, for those that haven't been there, i was there a couple years ago and spent an afternoon there. but for those that haven't been, think of the logistics of trying to get a fire brigade on to this island. it sits on what amounts to an island. especially during holy week monday after palm sunday. the crowds that would have been there. you wonder how they could have gotten anyone in. >> yeah, it would have been difficult, shep. the minute the flames started
coming out from the roof, you can imagine that all of the turrets, a lot of the people of paris flock on to the streets. it's such an iconic building. everybody stands there and just stares. in some of the pictures that i saw on twitter and other social media shows the streets completely blocked. nonetheless, you have to imagine that emergency services have the ability to get through there. certainly you do not have people blocking the river seine. on at least two sides, you could directly fire water from a firefighting boat if they have such things directly from the river. there should be no problem getting there. so i think the question will be, what kind of resources do they have in a city in which the seine river flows directly through the middle. you would imagine there are such things as firefighting boats. i don't know that for a fact,
but i would imagine there should be. speaks to logic there would be. why there wasn't some quicker movement. but obviously, from our position, thousands of miles away as you been saying, it's very easy to second guess this to armchair quarterback it. obviously there were some great difficulties in getting if resources that they needed there and those questions as to how they could have responded better, more quickly. we'll get some answers and explanations in due course, shep. >> shepard: jonathan hunt with us. thank you. the archbishop of paris has just sent out a dispatch to all of the priests of paris he writes, the firefighters are still fighting to save the towers of notre dame. the frame, the roof and the spire are consumed. let us pray. if you wish, you can ring the bells of your churches to invite prayer. the archbishop of paris.
a france 24 reporter on the ground reported on the streets along the river seine, people were singing "ave maria" and church hymns 40 minutes past 9:00 on the night that notre dame was reduced to ruins. we are now led to believe that the french president, emmanuel macron will speak in four minutes from now. that's the schedule. quarter till 10:00 paris time. about four minutes from now. we'll of course have the french president with english translation for you in just a moment. the guardian's corresponded, john henley and angelique christophus are on scene. and speaking to witnesses, including american tourists and
a french woman that calls it a body blow. show said we heard the sirens and fred phelps, 72 years old from sonoma county, in california. in paris as the guardian writes on holiday or vacation with his wife, 71 and booked a guided tour for the day of the a tomorrow. quoting this american from california, it's one of the things i wanted to see before i died, he said. we saw what was happening. we both welled up. it's terrible, just terrible to say the face of the parisians and hear the emotion in their voices. we don't understand french, but we understand this. we're both very moved. another visiting her children that are working in paris with her husband says she was along the river there at a cafe terrace when she saw the first
plumes of smoke rise into the air. that was just before 7:00 p.m. again, the fire department has informed us this just began five or six minutes after 6:00. she is seeing the first smoke after 6:50. she said, it's dreadful. we've seen people sobs, tears pouring down their faces, this is part of the heritage of paris, not just paris but all of france. it's terrible to see a magnificent building go up in flames. when the spire collapsed after 7:00 p.m. local time, there was "like a huge gasp, a collective cry from everyone watching." quoting now, "what can you say? seeing it across the river, it's almost like watching a person suffer." and alice lore, a lawyer from
paris, said she was immensely sad. quoting, this is a great historic monument. part of the beauty of paris, part of the history of france. it's literature. it's victor hugo. the hunch back. such a big thing in your life. the cathedral goes back to the 12th century and played a role in victor hugo's the hunch back of notre dame. that's the reference. when you're a parisian and you love paris, this is like a body blow. it's hard to describe how it feels. terribly, terribly sad. the french. macron is treating this as a national emergency. the president has declared a national emergency and has gone into emergency meetings. it will take the most massive
cost to restore notre dame. this just in. the heads of the friends of notre dame charity, michael pikard showed bbc travel last week how much repair the church had needed before the outbreak of this fire. pollution and acid rain and age have taken their toll. pointed out the dissolved statues and the weak parts of the building. and he said within ten years, we can see a complete collapse of the iconic monument he warned. today it's gone. to the phones now. liz boder is with us. liz lives in paris and has been watching the fire since it began. she says people are visibly shaken. her neighbor even coming over to give her a hug. thank you for being with us. we appreciate it, liz. tell us what you've seen and give us, if you can, your thoughts.
>> i saw burning embers flying through the air i saw people on the street who were just in shock. and when i looked down the street, the sky was filled with multicolored plumes of smoke. as an artist, all i could imagine is that the color and the smoke were so vibrant. it had to be from maybe the paintings, the pigments in the paintings inside. i was heart blown to my core. i thought this structure and the art within it represents almost 800 years of humans aspiring to that which is most beautiful in our spirit. to that aspiration, for that striving towards beauty to be engulfed in flames, inside everyone that loves the place and on the global stage, it's a
tragedy of just immense proportion. when the spire fell, i felt as though a part of my -- all of my insides fell apart. >> you about you, liz, but i felt the sense of helplessness. >> yes. >> shepard: like you want to do something and there's nothing that anybody can do. >> you know, i'm sure that you are -- your feeling is shared by so many people. and i wanted to start a new project, a new phase to pro serve our culture for humanity. that's the reason that i'm in paris, to try to find ways to protect our culture from fires,. i'm deeply saddened this has happened and my 10,000 year art
project is getting such, you know a report from a sad corner. >> shepard: you think of all that this building has survived. world war ii. maybe not the greatest of us. >> right. >> shepard: the nazis didn't destroy it. it survived eight centuries. yesterday from -- we don't know how it began. i'm sure at some point we will. our inability to save it collectively is just so sad. you wonder what went wrong. >> you absolutely do. i looked at it from the perspective from a californian, my first thought is where are the helicopters with the -- dropping the water on it? subsequently read that it was cast the structure to collapse.
but i also watched it collapse this afternoon. so you know, seemed as though there could have been more done but obviously they did the best they could. you're right. it's heart breaking. >> shepard: you have to figure, there's so many parisians that serve as first responders. i read the story of the first two firefighters to arrive that stood helpless as you or i. unable top do much of anything as the flameses began to lap up the spire. i'm not sure's ever watched anything quite like this before. >> well, it's -- you know, it was just a place where people went to go to find meeting in their lives. to have a spiritual connection to that which is the highest aspirations of humanity, right? it was just a place of beauty. that's all it was.
it wasn't a political place. didn't deserve that. i'm not a religious person. the first time i came to notre dame i was moved to tears. i considered becoming a catholic because it's so beautiful. now -- i'm sorry. i've been crying all afternoon. >> shepard: you're not alone. >> it's just awful. just wish there was something that -- i don't know. it's a sad day. >> shepard: it truly is. liz, all the best to you. thank you so much. i'm so sorry. >> thank you. >> shepard: a friend of mine sent me a text.
he said this isn't a catholic -- this isn't just a catholic landmark. it's lower case catholic, all embracing because of the awe and history that allowed us to remember who we have been and more importantly, where we want to go. notre dame. if you are like me and you've been lucky enough to visit, you've gone to your memories in your phone and you've typed in paris or notre dame. you found a picture of someone you love standing in front of it. and if you're like me, you remember what you did the rest of that day. just marvelling at the place. looking up into the forest. wondering how in the world was this possible 850 years ago.
and that it still stood. and all of the magnificence within. it was just so grand and inspiring. while you felt really small in it, you felt the greatness of what people could accomplish under any circumstances. 200 years it took from start to finish to build. 200 years. and there it stood for all of us to enjoy. i remember getting crapes after across the street with chocolate and bananas. sitting out front on the stone and looking at the building and thinking what an amazing things it was that we were able to just visit it.
just witness its greatness and processing how many thousands and thousands of peopled that done that that day and the day before and the day before that. and all of the joy that it had brought to people from around the world every corner of our world. a part of a trip on a day. but it was moving. inspiring. i'm glad i got to see it. if you didn't, i'm sorry you didn't. we've just gotten notice from the french fire chiefs who have just met with the french president, emmanuel macron. they issued this statement through the french press agency. they have said "we're not sure
if the fire can be stopped." something that has seemed evident for the better part of the last 1 1/2 hours, but frankly something that we didn't want to come to terms with and wouldn't report until we heard from an official. french fire chiefs have just told the french press agency they're not sure in the fire with be stopped. the vatican has issued the following statement as of 9:40 local time. so just about 14 minutes ago. the latest on the fire at notre dame cathedral in paris. the vatican issued a statement about the terrible fire that devastated notre dame in paris. the vatican said "the holy sea has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire
that has devastated the cathedral at notre dame, a symbol of christianity in france and in the world." the statements says the vatican is praying for the firefighters and those doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation. the holy sea also expressed our closeness to french catholics and the population of paris and assure our prayers for the firefighters. on the phone now the leigh holmes. she's visiting paris from sydney. she was taking pictures. by the time she crossed the street, she began to see the smoke. leigh, good evening. i'm so sorry. tell us what you saw, if you could. >> yeah, my friend and write taking pictures in the front. it was a normal day. we went to visit it.
we were talking all these pictures. we didn't notice anything at the time. then we started to cross the street then we started to notice a little smoke coming from the building. and we noticed the smell as well. we turned around. we crossed the street and turned around and all of a sudden there was smoke billowing out of the building. it was just getting bigger and bigger. big puffs of green smoke just belowing everywhere. people started to congregate. after five to ten minutes, we noticed the fire crew was coming down the street and the police were also arriving as well. people were just looking at it very shocked. they couldn't believe that it was happening. the little bits of ash coming on to our face from the smoke that was billowing out. it was quite dramatic and really shocking at the time. >> lee holmes on the line with us. stay with us. i want to show the viewers the video that you sent us.
here it is. i'm trying to imagine, lee -- i guarantee you, there's thousands if not tens of thousands of people watching now that stood where you were standing and never could have dreamed of seeing such a thing any more than you could have. >> the really sad thing is when the spire fell to the middle of the building. it was like 600-year-old architecture. it was sad to see it falling down in front of your eyes. then we walked around further. it was lovely that a group of people, carolers singing and singing a beautiful him that translated to holy mary mother of god, pray for us sinners now. with us a beautiful moment.
everybody had -- were sitting together and praying together. people were crying in the streets. that was really quite moving actually after the shock had worn off. it's still ablaze now. i think i heard that it probably not going to survive. >> shepard: lee, i read that you're visiting from sydney. i wonder, are you traveling other places and was this a spot to which you were so looking forward? was this a highlight? >> yeah, absolutely. i met up with my friend a couple days ago who was living in paris at the moment. she said what do you want to do while you're here? i said the only thing i really want to do is go and see notre dame. so today was the day. really incredible. i am traveling to england tomorrow. so i've only been here a few days. i just -- today i went to the van gogh exhibition, which was
amazing. i had this high and then this incredible low. >> shepard: lee holmes, thank you. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> shepard: from the french newspapers, translated to spanish, i just received this. years of work will be needed to rebuild the notre dame cathedral ravaged by a fire still in problem monday night said the president of the confederacy of bishops in france. . "we will be gone for years of work" said the recently elected president on his twitter account." the notre dame cathedral is a symbol hoff peace, hope, beauty and faith. it will be a loss of great bishop." notre dame, reduced to ruins on
this monday after palm sunday. i'm shepard smith in new york. our coverage continues on "your world" with neil cavuto. >> neil: an inconceivable moment on a day of the historic proportions. while in were thinking tax day, to if world, a taxing situation and iconic institution that has been reduced to rubble. welcome. i'm neil cavuto. this is "your world." if you look at the top ten destinations sites for tourists around the world, the notre dame cathedral would be on the list. in europe, it's among the top five. 13 to 18 million people visit it a year. thousands of special masses