Notre Dame cathedral came within minutes from total destruction before firefighters extinguished the blaze, according to a French official.
“They saved the edifice, but it all came down to 15 to 30 minutes,” France's junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said, according to The Guardian.
It took about 500 firefighters almost 15 hours to completely extinguish the blaze at the 850-year-old structure. The Guardian credited the firefighters for creating a wall of water between the blaze and the two towers, where the cathedral bells hang.
If the wooden frames of the towers had caught fire, it could have sent the bells crashing down and potentially brought about the collapse of the two structures, the newspaper said.
Officials are now trying to determine how much of the cathedral is structurally sound.
“We have identified some vulnerabilities … notably in the vault and the north transept pinion that needs securing,” Nunez said.
The fire was probably caused by accident, French prosecutors said Tuesday.
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