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Could take decades to rebuild structure

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Authorities look for answers after a massive fire devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
USA TODAY

Firefighters have salvaged the Notre Dame Cathedral’s main structure.

What’s next? Resurrection.

The chief architect of Cologne cathedral says it could take decades to repair the world famous house of worship, the Associated Press reported. 

Peter Fuessenich, who supervises construction work for the Gothic cathedral in the German city, told broadcaster RTL on Tuesday that “it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired.”

Cologne cathedral was badly damaged during World War II. Work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.

A massive fundraising campaign was underway Tuesday to rebuild the cathedral. At least $339 million has already been pledged. French billionaire Francois Henri Pinault committed $113 million, while fellow billionaire Bernard Arnault and his LVMH group pledged $226 million.

“The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity,” their statement said Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised late Monday to rebuild the monumental 12th-century cathedral, while religious leaders across the world shared stories of the resilience of places of worship.

All was not lost at Notre Dame. The religious statues that sat atop the cathedral were recently removed as part of a $6.8 million renovation of the towering spire that fell to the ground in Monday’s blaze. Some of the sacred artifacts housed at the cathedral are safe, too. 

“But no matter the destruction, the spirit of what it means to be a cathedral can and does survive such catastrophes,” Becky Clark, The Church of England’s director of cathedrals and church buildings, said in a statement.

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Among English churches that have risen from the ashes are the spire at Lincoln, which collapsed in the 1500s; St. Paul’s, which burned in the Great Fire of London; and the Coventry, which was bombed in World War II.

“All have been rebuilt, sometimes taking on new forms, to stand as reminders of eternity and resurrection which are the foundation of the Christian faith,” Clark said. 

Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet announced late Monday that operations had changed from an emergency response to monitoring and mop-up. Macron said a national fundraiser to restore the capital’s iconic landmark will begin Tuesday, and he called on the world’s “greatest talents” to help.

The copper statues that usually set atop the cathedral were removed just last week. Workers sent the 3-meter-tall statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists to southwestern France as part of the planned restoration project.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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