Home / Politics / Fire breaks out at Notre Dame cathedral in France’s Paris | France News

Fire breaks out at Notre Dame cathedral in France’s Paris | France News

Firefighters in Paris are battling to put out a huge blaze that has engulfed the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, a centuries-old building in the heart of the French capital.

Footage showed flames coming out of the Gothic cathedral early on Monday evening, with smoke billowing from the roof as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in horror.

The structure’s soaring spire later collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the 12th-century landmark was burning and likely to be destroyed.

“A terrible fire is under way at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter. 

“There are a lot of artworks inside … it’s a real tragedy,” she later told reporters at the scene.

Stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in horror [Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP] 

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire. Local media reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.

The cathedral was in the middle of $6.8m renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

Police urged people to avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who cancelled a national address due to the fire, was expected to head to the scene of the blaze.

“Notre-Dame de Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” Macron said on Twitter.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said she saw tears streaming down the face of some onlookers.

“The cathedral is a French icon, it is a symbol of Paris all over the world,” she said. “To see it in flames is extremely sad for so many people.”

Notre Dame is distinguished for its size, antiquity and architectural interest.

The cathedral, which is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel the Hunchback of Notre Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year.

It was here that Christian crusaders prayed before going to fight in the Holy Land, where revolutionaries defiled representations of French kings and Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804.

The cathedral dates back to the 12th century [Julie Carriat/Reuters]

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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