Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral was ablaze on Monday evening, with flames pictured leaping from the roof of the historic building, before the iconic spire collapsed along with the central roof.
The colossal fire swept through the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday afternoon, causing a spire to collapse and raising fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks.
The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in sheer horror.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work to help the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece better deal with the tests of time.
The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the cathedral, visited by millions of people a year.
Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told BFM TV the spire “collapsed inwards” and that workers were scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved.”
A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze.
“Everything is burning,” the spokesman for Notre Dame, Andre Finot, told AFP.
The fire service said the blaze could be “potentially linked” to ongoing renovations.
Meanwhile neighbours living in the vicinity had to be evacuated.
President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a planned TV appearance – where he had been going to lay out his proposals to respond to months of ‘yellow vest’ protests – to go to the scene.
A spokesperson for the cathedral said the fire, which comes as French Catholics prepare to celebrate Easter, broke out at around 17:50 local time.
The Paris police department in a tweet called on residents to avoid the area and to “make way for rescue vehicles”.
Many of the surrounding roads have been closed to allow emergency vehicles access.
US President Donald Trump in a tweet said: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”
Hundreds of people gathered on the bridges of Paris downriver to witness the scene, some filming the images with their smartphones, an AFP reporter said.
A burning smell filled the air.
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