Massive Fire Engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Updated: 5:34 p.m. ET
A fire has broken out at the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Paris police posted on Twitter about the fire, warning the public to avoid the area to help clear the way for an emergency response.
The cause of the fire is unclear, though, according to the BBC, officials believe it could be linked to construction work being done to renovate the 850-year-old building.
Videos and images of the scene have been posted throughout social media, with many showing large flames engulfing the roof of the popular tourist attraction. The building's iconic spire eventually collapsed from the fire, while crowds of onlookers gasped at the scene.
The French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said “exceptional measures are being taken to try to save the cathedral,” according to CNN.
Fear of the fire causing the cathedral's bells to fall have been put to rest as Laurent Nunez, French Secretary to the Interior Minster, said that both towers "are safe," according to CNN. Earlier in the evening, Jean-Claude Gallet, commander general of the Paris Fire Brigade stated, "If the bells fall, it's the tower that collapses." Gallet also noted that precious artwork from the building had been evacuated.
Other images show smoke billowing over the city.
Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, called the fire “terrible,” and French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter, as translated by CNN, “Notre Dame of Paris in flames. Emotion for a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
Support for Paris is pouring in from around the world. One emotional tweet from London Mayor Sadiq Khan stated that, “London stands in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always.”
The Vatican also released a statement on the devastation of the Catholic church, stating: “The Holy See has learned with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, symbol of Christianity, in France and in the world. We express our closeness to the French Catholic and to the people of Paris. We pray for the fire fighters and for all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”
This is a developing story.