Firefighters are battling a blaze at Paris’s famous Notre Dame cathedral after a fire broke out in the 850-year-old structure on Monday evening. Flames and smoke began billowing from the cathedral’s tower at around 7pm, footage from the scene shows.
The building has suffered serious structure damage, including the collapse of at least one of its spires.
French president Emmanuel Macron cancelled a plan to address the nation on Monday night in light of the “terrible fire” and would instead attend the scene, an Elysee official said.
A spokesperson for the Paris city government said the area around the place of worship had been cleared to make way for the firefighting operation.
“An evacuation is in progress,” a police officer at the scene said. “People are being advised to clear the area.” As the cathedral continued to burn, another office on the scene told the Reuters new agency: “Everything is collapsing.”
A Catholic church spokesperson told French media that the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark is burning and likely to be completely destroyed.
US president Donald Trump was among the first to issue condolences and advice. He tweeted: “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!”
Well-wishes for the city also flooded in from around the globe. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said: “Notre Dame of Paris is the Notre Dame of all of Europe. We are all with Paris today.”
Notre Dame is one of the most visited buildings in the world and has been a feature of the Paris skyline since the year 1160 when work was begun on its construction