The Notre Dame cathedral, one of the most recognizable symbols of Paris, caught fire Monday evening.
Video and photos posted on social media showed flames engulfing the spire of the church.
“The roof has entire collapsed, there are flames coming out of the cathedral as if it were a torch. It looks like the Olympic torch from the back with flames coming through the roof,” France 24 journalist Charli James reported live on air.
The 90 meter — 295 foot — spire soon after collapsed onto the roof.
Construction on the Gothic cathedral started in 1163. Renovations had just begun recently, with 16 statues removed from the church last week as part of the repairs.
Arde Notre Dame 😱 pic.twitter.com/IhJQHYxJnu
— Rafa García Jiménez (@CastelldeFerro) April 15, 2019
“A terrible fire is happening right now at the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral,” tweeted Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.
Un terrible incendie est en cours à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Les @PompiersParis sont en train de tenter de maîtriser les flammes. Nous sommes mobilisés sur place en lien étroit avec le @dioceseParis. J'invite chacune et chacun à respecter le périmètre de sécurité. pic.twitter.com/9X0tGtlgba
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) April 15, 2019
“The firefighters of Paris are trying to control the flames. We are mobilized on the ground, in close collaboration with the Paris diocese. I urge everyone to respect the security perimeter,” wrote the mayor, accompanied with photos of the cathedral covered in smoke.
Paris Police said the fire is in progress, asking people to avoid the area and allow emergency vehicles clear access.
Oh my god, this is hotrendous. The Notre Dame in Paris is on fire. Huge blaze. pic.twitter.com/uZQtmie9tS
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) April 15, 2019
The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
Twelve million people visited the cathedral in 2017, making it the most popular tourist attraction in all of Paris in 2017, according to the city’s tourist office.
Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame helped cement the cathedral in popular culture, helped along with the Disney version of Quasimodo living in the gargoyle-filled tower.
Thousands of Parisians turned out in the streets to watch the disaster unfold.
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019
“It’s an emotional scene. People stopped and watching this monument which will most likely never be the same burns right in front of our eyes,” said James on France 24.