No one was killed in the massive blaze, which knocked down the cathedral’s spire. The cause of the fire is currently unclear, though there have been renovations ongoing.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most historic landmarks in Paris and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, caught fire Monday evening and is at least partially destroyed.
Video and photos posted on social media showed flames engulfing the church, before both the ceiling and the 90-meter (295 feet) — spire collapsed, drawing gasps and moans of disbelief from witnesses.
Police said there were no deaths and it is unclear if there were any injuries. The fire broke out just before 7 p.m., minutes after the cathedral closed to the public. Around 30,000 people visit the church daily.
A man watches the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral burn.
Church spokesperson André Finot told French media that the entire wooden interior, which dates from the 13th century, is burning and likely to be destroyed.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Finot said.
“The roof has entirely collapsed, there are flames coming out of the cathedral as if it were a torch. It looks like the Olympic torch from the back with flames coming through the roof,” France 24 journalist Charli James reported live on air.
Not long after, video shows people yelling “No!” as the steeple fell.
Emergency services said they were trying to salvage as much artwork as possible, with France24 reporting that nearly all of it was able to be removed and saved. The Interior Ministry tweeted that 400 firefighters are on the ground fighting the flames.
Un dispositif exceptionnel est mis en place pour éteindre l’incendie #NotreDame #Paris : 400 pompiers sont mobilisés. Évitez le secteur et suivez les consignes de @prefpolice. #HérosduQuotidien
France 24 reported that the Paris prosecutor has begun an investigation into how the fire started.
Construction on the Gothic cathedral started in 1163. Renovations had just begun recently, with 16 statues removed from the church last week as part of the repairs.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
“Thinking of all the Catholics and all the French people. Like all our citizens, I am sad to see this part of ourself burn tonight,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who canceled a planned speech after news of the fire.
Notre-Dame de Paris en proie aux flammes. Émotion de toute une nation. Pensée pour tous les catholiques et pour tous les Français. Comme tous nos compatriotes, je suis triste ce soir de voir brûler cette part de nous.
This week is Easter Holy Week, and the cathedral is the most important Catholic location in France.
“A terrible fire is happening right now at the Notre Dame Cathedral,” tweeted Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.
Un terrible incendie est en cours à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Les @PompiersParis sont en train de tenter de maîtriser les flammes. Nous sommes mobilisés sur place en lien étroit avec le @dioceseParis. J’invite chacune et chacun à respecter le périmètre de sécurité.
“The firefighters of Paris are trying to control the flames. We are mobilized on the ground, in close collaboration with the Paris diocese. I urge everyone to respect the security perimeter,” wrote the mayor, accompanied with photos of the cathedral covered in smoke.
Around 8.30 p.m. local time, around an hour and a half after the fire began, video footage no longer showed huge flames as firefighters began to get the fire under control.
Paris police asked people to avoid the area and allow emergency vehicles clear access.
Just seems such a huge, heartbreaking fire. Hope nobody is hurt, first & foremost. And aside from that, as anyone who has visited knows, it’s such a stunning cathedral. #NotreDame
Twelve million people visited the cathedral in 2017, making it the most popular tourist attraction in all of Paris, according to the city’s tourist office.
Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame helped cement the cathedral in popular culture, along with the Disney version of Quasimodo living in the gargoyle-filled tower.
There are people crying. People on rooftops. I can hear the burning from here #NotreDame
Thousands of Parisians turned out in the streets to watch the disaster unfold.
“It’s an emotional scene — people stopped and watching this monument which will most likely never be the same burns right in front of our eyes,” said James on France 24.
“People watch the cathedral burn, in silence,” tweeted Libération journalist Quentin Girard.
La cathédrale et la foule, nombreuse. Les gens regardent la cathédrale brûler, en silence
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