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Notre Dame in Paris engulfed in flames

Francois Guillot | AFP

Fire and smoke seen from miles around

A fire broke out in the Cathedral of Notre Dame Monday evening, sending flames and smoke billows that could be seen from miles around in Paris.

André Finot, a spokesman for the cathedral, told the New York Times that the spire of the cathedral had caught fire.

Update: Just before 8 p.m., the main spire of the cathedral collapsed.

Finot said the entire wooden frame of the cathedral would likely come down, and that the vault of the edifice could be threatened too, Associated Press reported. 

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Finot told French media.

“Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

Parisians gathered nearby to pray, as their beloved cathedral continued to burn.

The cause of the fire, which broke out at the beginning of the week leading up to Easter, remained unknown. The Telegraph quoted Paris officials saying the fire could be linked to renovation work being carried out at the iconic cathedral.

But the incident raises fresh questions in the wake of a string of attacks against Catholic churches throughout France in recent months, including a fire at Saint Sulpice in Paris. Firefighters were able to bring that fire under control and no one was hurt.

Finot said a fire alarm went off at Notre Dame around 6:30 p.m. and that the cathedral had been evacuated. Firefighters were on the scene.

“Video filmed by onlookers and shared on social media showed smoke and flames billowing from the top of the cathedral, engulfing scaffolding and the spire,” the Times said:

The cathedral, one of Paris’s most famous landmarks, is currently undergoing renovation work, and several statues were lifted by crane from the spire last week.

First Lady Melania Trump said on Twitter, “My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety.”

“Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world—and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames,” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris.”

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