April 15, 2019 4:27 pm

Trump says France should use ‘flying water tankers’ to fight Notre Dame Cathedral fire

WATCH ABOVE: Flames rage inside cathedral as darkness falls


As the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that France should use “flying water tankers” to put out the blaze as firefighters fought to save one of the country’s most iconic landmarks.

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Trump wrote. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

It was not immediately clear what started that massive fire on the roof of the 12th century cathedral that toppled its spire and sent massive plumes of smoke into the air. French media have speculated the fire is linked to a renovation project and prosecutors have opened an investigation

Paris police have said there are no reported deaths.

Smokes ascends as flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)

Francois Guillot/AFP via Getty Images

The steeple of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral collapses as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris on April 15, 2019.

Geoffory Van Der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

WATCH: Flames engulf Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Responding to the president’s proposal, the Sécurité Civile — France’s main civil defence agency — said a water drop from a helicopter or airplane could cause the entire structure to collapse or damage surrounding buildings.

“The weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre-Dame and cause collateral damage to the surrounding buildings,” the agency said in a tweet.

France’s Ministry of the Interior has reported that roughly 400 firefighters were responding to the Notre Dame fire.

French president Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation and was travelling to the site of the blaze.

“Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation,” Macron tweeted. “Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

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READ MORE: What ‘invaluable’ treasures reside at the famed Paris cathedral

Speaking in Minnesota Monday, Trump said the cathedral was “burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn.”

“It might be greater than almost any museum in the world, and it’s burning very badly. It looks like it’s burning to the ground. So, that puts a damper on what we are about to say, to be honest,” Trump said.

He also commented on reports the fire was caused by ongoing renovations.

“I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, what’s that all about? But it’s a terrible sight to behold,” Trump said.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1163 and Notre Dame is considered one of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages. First immortalized in Victor Hugo’s book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the building has long been a subject of fascination of historians and art lovers, drawing roughly 12 million tourists every year.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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