Electrical short circuit may have caused Notre Dame fire, French officials say

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A French judicial police official said investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

On Monday, the fire raged through the cathedral for more than 12 hours, ultimately destroying its spire and roof but sparing its twin medieval bell towers.

A preliminary investigation of the scene on Tuesday found no immediate signs of arson, the city's public prosecutor said. Donations towards the church's reconstruction have flowed in from the private sector too.

Some of France's biggest companies and richest tycoons, including luxury goods rivals Francois-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault, have pledged amounts of 100 million euros or more for Notre-Dame after it was gutted by fire Monday.

"Almost from the very first moments we heard the bad news that Notre-Dame was ablaze, New Yorkers of all faiths, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, reached out to me to express their sorrow at the devastation, and ask how they could help", Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the NY archbishop, said in a statement.

Macron said the firefighters will receive an honor medal for their courage and devotion.

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"Deeply saddened by the awful fire that ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris, the emblematic heart of the capital, on behalf of all Monegasques, my family and in my own name, I offer an expression of our support and our solidarity", the 61-year old prince wrote.

It was previously thought that the fire was a result of the renovation work going on, though investigators confirmed that no one was on site as the fire broke out.

France is paying tribute Thursday to the hundreds of firefighters who saved the world-renowned Notre Dame Cathedral from utter collapse.

In a letter sent on Thursday to Polish bishops, they said "We as Jews know what it means to see your house of worship burning".

Based on where in the building the flames started, initial speculation suggested restoration works could be responsible for the blaze.

The fire service have warned that the building remains fragile and extremely unsafe for people to work in.

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Among the firefighters honored Thursday was Paris fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who says he was falsely credited with helping salvage the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion. Fournier told France Info on Thursday that his own team arrived on the heels of the salvaging and praised the action "to preserve this extraordinary relic, this patrimony of humanity".

A large swath of the island in the Seine River where Notre Dame is located was officially closed Thursday by police, who cited "important risks" of collapse and falling objects.

Remarkably, no one was killed in the blaze, which occurred during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated everyone inside.

Parisian onlookers were left in tears as they watch the fire spread quickly through the historic building.

President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Notre Dame to be restored in five years, a timeline that restoration specialists have questioned as overly ambitious, with some saying it could take three times that long to rebuild the 850-year-old architectural treasure. Almost $1 billion has been pledged for the cathedral's restoration.

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