A man works on the scaffolding on the facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Thursday, April 18, 2019. Nearly $1 billion has already poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after a massive fire. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The Latest: Fire chief: Team effort to save Notre Dame relic

April 18, 2019 - 7:10 am

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and its aftermath (all times local):

1 p.m.

The chaplain of the Paris fire brigade credits saving the crown of thorns from fire that gutted Notre Dame to a team of rescuers who broke the relic's protective covering and an official who had the secret code to unlock the protection.

Fire chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier told France Info on Thursday that his own team arrived on the heels of the salvaging, and praised the action "to preserve this extraordinary relic, this patrimony of humanity."

Others had earlier credited Fournier with saving the crown of thorns.

Fournier told daily Le Parisian that he himself was able to save the most precious thing for Catholics from the fires, the concentrated hosts. The paper said he climbed on altars to remove large paintings, but that he felt especially proud of another personal salvaging operation: "to have removed Jesus" from the Cathedral.

He was referring to the chalice containing consecrated hosts that for Catholics are the body of Christ.

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12:20 p.m.

Workers are securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame's famed rose windows with wooden planks after this week's devastating fire.

A huge crane and renovation teams worked at the site Thursday, after authorities warned that some of the structure remains at risk. Firefighters walked on what the remains of the roof to inspect damage.

The island housing Notre Dame at the heart of the French capital remained largely empty Thursday and closed to everyone but residents. Businesses were shuttered and the usual tourist throngs were nowhere to be seen.

Passersby praised the French firefighters who helped save the overall structure of the cathedral, although its spire collapsed and its roof was destroyed in Monday's devastating fire.

Benedicte Contamin, who came to see the cathedral Thursday, said she's sad but grateful it's still there. She said this is "a chance for France to bounce back, a chance to realize what unites us, because we have been too much divided over the past years."

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9 a.m.

France is paying a daylong tribute Thursday to the Paris firefighters who saved the internationally revered Notre Dame Cathedral from collapse and rescued its treasures from encroaching flames.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host the firefighters for a special gathering to share "words of thanks." Top government ministers will also take part in the event at the presidential palace in Paris.

Later, Paris City Hall will hold a ceremony in the firefighters' honor, with a Bach violin concert, 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 evening. Its spire collapsed and 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 occurred during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated those inside.

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Read and watch all AP coverage of the Notre Dame fire at https://apnews.com/NotreDameCathedral

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