A major fire is consuming the Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris, with smoke billowing over the city.
The cathedral was in the process of being restored, and over the past couple of days saw sixteen bronze statues removed from the roof area to help expedite the work. The fire apparently started in the roof where work is taking place.
Conservative MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Debout La France party, reacted with shock to the fire writing, ” see the flames and the thick smoke above Paris, I have tears in my eyes.”
Fire trucks could be seen speeding through Paris towards the scene on the Ile de la Cite – an island in the Seine at the heart of Paris.
Some of the spectators were crying, and others started singing hymns.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” said an elderly woman. “If this burns down, it’s a piece of history that goes.”
The crowd could hear loud bangs as part of the roof appeared to collapse.
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The spire and roof have collapsed, and now word is coming that the wood inside the building is on fire. Officials do not believe the building can be saved – this just days before Easter.
Paris Mayor Anne Hildago and firefighters warned people to stay away from the area. There have been no confirmed deaths, according to Paris police, while a French government official said no injuries had yet been reported.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, while local media reported that police in the city were treating it as an accident.
Emergency services started trying to salvage the precious artwork and other priceless items stored there, the city’s deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told reporters.
Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame.”
This is awful regardless of how the fire was started, accidentally or otherwise. This building has global significance as people from around the world have traveled to Paris just to visit the cathedral.
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