Notre Dame Cathedral has gone up in flames this evening in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, leaving the city, France, and the international community distraught.
Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.
While a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area, Parisians and tourists watched on, as others took to social media to express their sorrow.
‘Centuries of art and history destroyed before our eyes. This building has stood since the Middle Ages. This is absolutely devastating,’ one Twitter user wrote.
Notre Dame Cathedral has gone up in flames this evening in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark
Horrified onlookers watch as the iconic cathedral goes up in flames on Monday evening
One man currently in the city wrote on Twitter: ‘Unreal. I literally just visited Notre Dame two days ago. I’m currently looking at the smoke from a restaurant patio in Paris right now’.
‘Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building,’ said witness Jacek Poltorak, watching the fire from a fifth-floor balcony two blocks from the southern facade of the cathedral, one of France’s most visited places.
Others described the tragedy of never being able to see the Notre Dame as it was before the blaze.
‘Notre Dame is perhaps one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever set foot in, and watching it burn down is absolutely soul crushing,’ read one Twitter post.
A woman talks on the phone and begins to cry as she watches the flames rip through the roof
Onlookers stand on a bridge as the stare in shock at the smoke and flames rising through the landmark in Paris
While a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area, Parisians and tourists watched on, some of them lost for words
A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
A woman and boy stand at the window of an apartment as they watch the flames on the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Parisians look at the flames burning the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral from the bridges on the Seine river in Paris
People kneel on the pavement as they pray for the landmark which has been ruined by flames
Tourists and Parisians gathered near the cathedral to pray for the Parisian landmark
‘Sad I’ll never get to see Notre Dame,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘It’s on my bucket list and now one of the historic landmarks is just gone! Thoughts go out to France’.
‘Terrible seeing the Notre Dame in flames. Art and history turned to ashes. So glad no one has been hurt. Paris we are with you and will be there to see it restored. Shocking news,’ another social media user said.
Ashley Huntington, 21, an American university student studying in Paris, said: ‘Our class ran what was supposed to be 30 minutes walking but we probably got here in 20 running.
‘It just looks like it’s out of control. I’ve never seen a fire in real life but the flames keep getting bigger and bigger. I don’t think it’s getting better at all.’
Reaction: Those watching the tragedy unfold around the world were quick to take to social media
‘I have a lot of friends who live abroad and every time they come I tell them to go to Notre Dame,’ said witness Samantha Silva, with tears in her eyes.
‘I’ve visited it so many times, but it will never be the same. It’s a real symbol of Paris.’
One Twitter user wrote: ‘It’s really sad to see this happen to one of France’s most famous landmarks. The fire looks monstrous but I hope they can still do something about it.’
Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris.
Tourists and those living in Paris watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burning in central Paris
People sit and watch as the flames blaze through the landmark building in Paris, France
People stand on the banks of the Seine river as they look at the tragic scene in Paris on Monday
A distraught woman appears to abandon her bicycle and sit on the street as she stares sorrowfully at the flames engulfing the landmark
Stunned individuals stand next to the River Seine as they watch the Notre Dame Cathedral burn
A shocked woman can’t stop staring as the landmark is ruined by blazing flames on Monday
Buildings around were evacuated and nobody was injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: ‘It’s too early to determine the causes of the fire.’
France 2 television reported that police were treating it as an accident.
‘Everything is collapsing,’ a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.
‘Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,’ President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
A colossal fire swept through the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris and onlookers stared in shock
Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof
‘There are a lot of art works inside…it’s a real tragedy,’ Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said at the scene.
Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze.
The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding and bronze statues were removed last week for works.
The wood and lead spire was built during a restoration in the mid-19th century, according to the cathedral’s website.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo’s classic novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year.
The Gothic cathedral is famed for its many carved stone gargoyles, stunning stained glass windows and the flying buttresses that hold up its walls.