France pays tribute to firefighters who saved Notre Dame

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PARIS — France paid a daylong tribute Thursday to the Paris firefighters who saved the internationally revered Notre Dame Cathedral from collapse and rescued many of its treasures. As the ceremonies took place, construction workers hurriedly secured key sections of the fire-weakened cathedral, including an area above one of its famed rose-shaped windows.

Fire officials warned that the massive cathedral still remains very fragile and extremely dangerous for construction workers and other specialists. On Thursday, workers using a crane were removing some statues to lessen the weight on cathedral’s fragile gables, or support walls, and to keep them from falling, since the section lacked the support of the massive timber roof that burned up in Monday’s evening’s devastating blaze.

They were also securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame’s rose windows with wooden planks.

Several hundred Paris firefighters, who are members of the French military, filed into the presidential Elysee Palace courtyard for a gathering hosted by President Emmanuel Macron to share what his office said were “words of thanks.” Top government ministers also attended.

Paris City Hall was holding a ceremony in the firefighters’ honor later in the day, with a Bach violin concerto, two giant banners strung from the monumental city headquarters and readings from Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

More than 400 firefighters took part in the nine-hour battle to save the 12th-century Notre Dame on Monday. Its spire collapsed and the roof was destroyed, but its iconic towers rose windows, famed organ, and precious artworks were saved.

Remarkably, no one was killed in the fire, which began during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated those insides.

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