Notre Dame Cathedral to Be Closed for 6 Years

Notre Dame Cathedral will reportedly be closed for up to six years following Monday's massive fire, according to the church's rector.

Bishop Patrick Chauvet acknowledged that the famous landmark would close down for "five or six years" as he spoke with business owners on Wednesday, USA Today reports. He said that "a segment of the cathedral has been very weakened" by the devastating fire, but did not specify which section he was talking about.

The fire torched about two-thirds of the roof as well as the cathedral's famous lacy spire.

Chauvet also said that he's unsure about the future of the 67 employees of the church and what they will do in the meantime.

Stephane Bern, the cultural heritage envoy for the French President Emmanuel Macron, said Macron echoed Chauvet and that it's realistic to reopen the cathedral to the public in five years, according to The Associated Press.

Berne said that following a meeting about the reconstruction, Macron's goal is to allow visitors coming for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris to visit Notre Dame.

"No one around the table has protested saying this is unrealistic or utopian," Bern said, adding that questions about the material for the new roof and frame will be answered "later."

Bern also said that Macron said the new spire will hinge on the results of an international architecture competition.

The Notre Dame Cathedral has never been closed to the public for an extended period of time in recent history, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. A similar instance occurred in 2013 when bells were added in the towers, but that renovation occurred only at night and only the two towers were periodically closed.

In two days, $1 billion has been raised for the rebuilding of the landmark, the Tribune reports. Wealthy French citizens, including luxury brand group LVMN founder Bernard Arnault and Salma Hayek's husband François-Henri Pinault, both donated large sums immediately after the fire.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also announced that the contest will help developers decide if they should rebuild the spire at all, create an exact replica, or "if, as is often he case for the evolution of patrimony and cathedrals, Notre Dame should be given a new spire adapted to the techniques and goals of our era."

An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, according to Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz. Initial reports indicate it started in the attic, which has a wooden framework and no sprinklers, and spread across the roof and up the 300-foot spire.