WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has offered his condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron for the devastation caused by the massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, the White House said Tuesday.
"The United States stands with French citizens, the city of Paris, and the millions of visitors from around the world who have sought solace in that iconic structure," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "The Cathedral has served as a spiritual home for almost a millennium, and we are saddened to witness the damage to this architectural masterpiece."
Firefighters extinguished the blaze Tuesday morning, and French officials are assessing the damage and structural integrity of the 800-year-old building. One official predicted it could potentially take decades to repair the cathedral. A fundraising campaign began hours after the fire was put out.
"France is the oldest ally of the United States, and we remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame’s bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil," Sanders said in her statement. "Those bells will sound again...Vive la France!"
Trump, who has had a touch-and-go relationship with Macron, drew criticism from some French authorities on Monday for suggesting while the blaze was still roaring through the structure that "flying water tankers" should be used immediately to contain the fire.
"Must act quickly!" Trump implored in a Twitter post.
Professional firefighters called Trump's proposal impractical at best. Deploying the kinds of airplanes used to fight forest fires would be dangerous in an urban area, they said, noting that the force of the water could knock the building down and threaten firefighters on the ground.
Contributing: David Jackson
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump calls French president Emmanuel Macron to offer condolences for Notre Dame fire