A massive fire broke out Monday afternoon at Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, sending flames shooting out of the roof of the iconic and historic building.
Smoke could be seen billowing from miles away and a concerned President Emmanuel Macron has postponed his planned address to the nation over his response to Yellow Vests protesters.
Fire officials told Agence France-Press that the fire in the biggest church in Paris was potentially linked to the renovation of the building and is believed to have started in the attic.
Dramatic images posted to social media showed the roof of the medieval cathedral engulfed in flames.
The Medieval cathedral is one of the main attractions of the French capital, seeing 12 million tourists a year.
The fire was the second to affect historic churches in Paris, following the one in March that engulfed the St. Sulpice church, built in the 19th Century .
The Notre-Dame was built between the 13th and 15th Century.
Renovation works have been underway on the cathedral’s roof that was partially covered in scaffolding, according to reports.
Updates posted online said the spire of the church has collapsed in the fire.
President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo described the fire as “terrible”.
A spokesperson for the cathedral said the fire, which comes as French Catholics prepare to celebrate Easter, broke out at around 1650 GMT.
US President Donald Trump in a tweet said: “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!”
Hundreds of people gathered on the bridges of Paris downriver to witness the scene, some filming the images with their smartphones, an AFP reporter said.
The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163 and construction of the building took more than two centuries. It survived the French Revolution in the late 18th century and experienced a surge in popularity following the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in 1831.