A fire is engulfing the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and has already destroyed the monument’s spire.
The blaze erupted at the centuries-old cathedral on Monday around 6:30 pm local time, and news of the fire spread rapidly on social media as people shared photos showing bright-orange flames and smoke pouring from a spire of the church.
Images later showed the cathedral’s spire collapsing, swallowed up by the blaze.
“There will be nothing left,” a spokesperson for Notre Dame told the BBC. “It remains to be seen whether the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not.”
The cause of the fire is not yet clear, though police told the Guardian that it appeared to be an accident and linked to restoration work. The more than 800-year-old church, which is one of Paris’s most iconic attractions, has been in desperate need of repairs and restoration.
Fire crews are continuing to battle the blaze. The building was evacuated when the flames broke out, and there have been no reports of any injuries.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s mayor, said on Twitter that “a terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” and that fire crews were trying to control the flames. She urged people to avoid the area.
In recent years, Notre Dame had fallen into a state of disrepair, with its buttresses eroding and its famous gargoyles replaced with piping because they were disintegrating. This prompted a massive fundraising effort to try to save the landmark.
Just last week, some of the statues atop the cathedral were removed for restoration as part of a $6.8 million renovation project on the cathedral’s spine.
Construction began on the cathedral in the late 12th century, and it was badly damaged during the French Revolution. French writer Victor Hugo popularized the cathedral in his 1830s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which helped make the landmark famous and galvanize the public to undergo a major restoration project in the mid-1800s.
Reactions to the burning of Notre Dame
French President Emmanuel Macron described the fire at Notre Dame as the “emotion of an entire nation.”
“Thinking of all Catholics and all French people,” Macron wrote on Twitter. “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of us burn.”
President Donald Trump also addressed the fire, calling it “so horrible to watch.” He also weighed in with his approach to fire-fighting.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
At another event later, Trump called it a “terrible, terrible fire,” and lamented the damage done to the “one of the great treasures of the world.”
This is a developing news story.
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