A fire broke out at the historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France Monday.
The cause of the fire is unclear at this time. Fire officials believe it was started accidentally, Reuters reported. Officials said it could be linked to renovation work, the BBC reported. The church is undergoing a $6.8 million renovation, according to the Associated Press.
A major fire department operation is underway, NBC News reported.
“What we see from the outside would suggest catastrophic damage on the inside,” CNN’s Melissa Bell reported.
“The roof has entirely collapsed, there are flames coming out the back of the cathedral as if it was a torch,” France 24’s Charli James reported.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media, according to the AP.
Notre Dame is a historic cathedral known for its French Gothic architecture. Building began in 1160 and was completed nearly a hundred years later. It has been restored throughout the centuries since.
Notre Dame is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Paris, drawing an estimated 12 million people each year, according to Paris Digest.
The Catholic Church in France issued an urgent appeal for funds to renovate the cathedral after it began to crumble, according to the BBC. The cathedral needed a major renovation estimated to cost $185 million — before the fire. The Catholic Church has raised about a quarter of that amount from private donations, Vice News reported.
Videos, Photos Show Fire at Notre Dame
Photos and video posted to social media showed the fire break out at Notre Dame.
Fire Caused Notre Dame Spire to Collapse
The fire caused the 750-ton spire atop the Notre Dame cathedral to collapse. Videos posted to social media captured the moment it came down as flames billowed on either side of the roof.
Fire Department Working to Battle Flames at Notre Dame
Paris police confirmed that a fire was underway and asked people to avoid the area and allow emergency personnel to access the scene.
“A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter, urging everyone to clear the area so emergency crews can access the scene.
“Our Lady of Paris is in flames. Emotion for the whole nation. A thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.