Before a massive fire ruined a sizable portion of the Notre Dame Cathedral, 16 historic statues had been taken out of the way, news reports claim. It was the first time the statues had come down from their position in more than a century.

Apparently, the statues had been removed from their position as part of the church’s restoration process. The job required the use of a 100-meter-high crane that brought down the copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists.

The valuable historical masterpieces were lowered onto a truck, and the public saw for the first time how the statues looked from ground level in over a hundred years.

The statues were headed towards southwestern France for a renovation project focusing on the church. In total, the project was estimated to be worth 6 million euro (about $6.8 million).

The artistic masterpieces being taken from the church were being taken to the Louvre Museum.

When the fire razed the cathedral, or much of it, the renovation process was already underway, and the project was estimated to be worth at least 150 million euro ($169 million).

An expert had said in 2017 that the building was in dire need of renovations because the stone was eroded, and the wind was making the damage worse as small stones would fall off every time it blew.

Things had to be handled fast and extensively before they got completely out of control. But that did not really happen until a fire started at the cathedral.

When the fire had started, various parties rushed to the scene to try and save the historic masterpieces from total ruin. A few pieces were saved from the fiery destruction that followed, including Christ’s crown of thorns and the French king Saint-Lous’ 13th-century tunic.

Paris public prosecutor, Remy Heitz, promised that a long and complex investigation would take place to find out how the fire started, although he claimed it was highly likely that an accident caused the unfortunate event.

There were suspicions that the fire was as a result of arson, but there is also a likelihood that construction fire is responsible for the devastating blaze. These kinds of fires are not uncommon during the restoration of old churches.

On his part, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, promised that he would rebuild the cathedral. He also promised that a cabinet meeting dedicated to the Notre Dame Cathedral fire would take place.

Even as the fire gutted the building, there were wealthy donors from around the world promising to help fund the reconstruction, with 600 million euros ($677m) being pledged so far.

By Tuesday morning, the fire was completely out, and according to the fire brigade spokesman, the damage was quite bad. However, if it had not been contained in a timely manner, it would have been much worse.

Still, the whole roof is in ruins, and some section of the vault has collapsed. The spire, also, is completely destroyed.

The French culture minister further warned that the building was still unstable.

Experts had earlier claimed that the building was likely to collapse in the next ten years, even without the fire adding to its instability.