Hundreds of people have watched on in shock as a raging blaze this evening devastated the 800-year-old Notre Dame cathedral, one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Shocking pictures showed Notre Dame’s spire being engulfed by roaring flames before it collapsed. Dark plumes of billowing smoke rose high into the air above the Gothic building, a major destination for tourists. A major operation is underway by the fire department at the cathedral located on the Ile de la Cite in the 4th arrondissement.
President Emmanuel Macron has cancelled a planned address to the nation he had been due to give on Monday night.
He tweeted: “Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted: “A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.”
The 12th-century cathedral is the setting for Victor Hugo’s classic novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
What caused the fire?
Notre Dame was in the middle of renovations when the fire started at 6pm BST (7pm local time), with sections of scaffolding in place.
French media have reported the blaze might be linked to the renovations.
Firefighters were seen trying to douse the flames with water.
US President Donald Trump tweeted his support, suggesting “flying water tankers” might be used in the fight to battle the flames.
He wrote: “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!”
Witness Jacek Poltorak said: “Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building.”