Paris' Notre Dame cathedral on fire

Paris' Notre Dame cathedral on fire

Freeport resident Lucy Soule, 22, said it was "weird" having been in the church right before this happened.

He recalled that Notre Dame bells sounded the death knell following the 2015 Paris attacks.

The fire was reported at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Paris, France, the New York Times reported. "They won't be able to see it". I'm very glad I did.

A major operation was under way, the fire department said, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.

"We are a people of hope and of the resurrection, and as devastating as this fire is, I know that the faith and love embodied by this magnificent Cathedral will grow stronger in the hearts of all Christians".

Gallet said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be".

It served as the backdrop for Victor Hugo's 1831 "Notre Dame de Paris" (better known in English as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame").

Years of rain, snow and pollution were eroding the flying buttresses that prop the cathedral up, said Picaud, and that was putting the whole cathedral at risk of falling down.

Flames already have reached one of Notre Dame's towers and brought down the church spire that extended 96 meters high.

The Paris fire brigade are at the scene dousing the building in water.

Macron tweeted: "Our Lady of Paris in flames". Hundreds of people lined up bridges around the island that houses the cathedral, watching in shock as acrid smoke rose in plumes.

Notre Dame's exterior features a collection of sculptures known as "grotesques", stone creatures meant to protect the church from malevolent spirits.

"Notre-Dame is perhaps one of the most handsome buildings I have ever set foot in, and watching it burn down is absolutely soul crushing", read one Twitter post.

"This is one of the jewels of Paris", said Creed as she watched.

A spokesman from Elysee Palace said French President Emmanuel Macron will visit the scene.

The Catholic Church in the Holy Land said it was praying that the fire ripping through the cathedral was "not intentional" while expressing solidarity with the church in France.

As firefighters battled the blaze, part of the spire of the 12-century monument collapsed. Authorities say the wooden interior now is burning.

Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told French media outlets that the entire wood frame of the building would likely be lost and the structural integrity would be compromised, according to the AP. The absence of the statues will also signal the start of the renovation work of the spire that will last until 2022.

He also commented on reports the fire was caused by ongoing renovations.

"Who is not deeply moved at the sight of this great Cathedral in flames?"

It is unclear whether anyone has been hurt.

"So terrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris", the president wrote.

Flames shot out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work to help the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece better deal with the tests of time.

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