Notre Dame to Rebuild after the Fire

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Sadness and shock have gripped Winnipeggers after a devastating fire Monday tore through the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris - a fire which is being compared to a blaze that ravaged the St. Boniface Cathedral more than fifty years ago.

France will open the redesign of the Notre-Dame de Paris' iconic roofline to global architects after Monday night's blaze gutted the oak-framed structure and sent its 300-foot spire crashing through its vaulted ceiling, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Almost $1 billion in donations have poured in for the vast restoration of the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral - but a pledge by French President Emmanuel Macron that it will be completed within five years was facing accusations of being wildly off track.

A combined €800m ($902m; £692m) has already been pledged by a number of companies and business tycoons to help rebuild the Unesco World Heritage site.

Firefighters are just starting to sift through the ashes in Notre Dame cathedral, but one Democratic lawmaker thought it was an opportune time to turn the tragedy into a political jab at President Trump.

Taken aback by what she saw, Lesley Rowan shared a picture of the fire on Facebook and asked others if they saw what she saw.

The rooster has served as a "spiritual lightning" rod for Notre Dame, according to the cathedral's website.

Macron said the dramatic fire had brought out the best in the country, showing the French to be "a nation of builders".

Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz laid out a timeline in which an alarm went off at 6.20pm local time (12.20am on Tuesday Singapore time), but no evidence of fire was found. While Notre Dame "has a secret spiritual dimension" that makes it a place "where even a non-believer senses the transcendent", the spire that collapsed during the fire only dated from the 1800s, he said. The 750-ton spire, which was originally constructed in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 19th out of oak covered with lead, toppled shortly before 8 p.m.

Although Apple is yet to clarify the comments by its CEO, it is the first major non-French organization to voice its will to help the restoration works.

Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters that artworks were being transferred from a storeroom in City Hall to the Louvre on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among those questioned are workers at the five construction companies involved in work renovating the church spire and roof that had been underway when the fire broke out. "The investigators raise questions about the lifting mechanisms used in the fix work", a source said.

Officials warned that Notre Dame may still have gravely risky vulnerabilities, especially in the soaring vault.

Bertrand de Feydeau is the vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine.

"Obviously, Notre Dame de Paris is like an worldwide, iconic structure - 800-years-old - this building (the St. Boniface Cathedral) was 60-years-old".

But some experts have warned a full restoration could take longer, with one of the biggest tasks involving replacing the precious oak "forest" of beams that held up the roof.

"Just watching that steeple fall into the church, just brought back bad memories", said Ed Cuff.