The fire that broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France Monday is believed to have been caused by an accident related to the restoration work being done on the cathedral, police told The Guardian.
France’s prosecutor has opened a full investigation into the fire, CNN reported.
The building was underdoing a $6.8 million renovation project on badly needed improvements, The Associated Press reported.
Flames were seen billowing from the historic Catholic cathedral at around 7 pm local time in Paris.
The fire did an enormous amount of damage to the structure, causing the 750-ton spire atop the cathedral to collapse.
Police say no deaths have been reported as a result of the fire. It’s unclear if anyone was injured.
A church spokesman said that the entire structure was likely destroyed in the fire.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
“There will be nothing left,” he told BBC. “It remains to be seen whether the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not.”
The cathedral, which sees more than 10 million tourists per year, has survived more than 850 years. It is home to numerous works of art and Catholic Church artifacts.
The fire caused French President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a televised national speech.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Notre Dame Has Long Been in Need of Major Repairs
In 2017, Time Magazine highlighted Notre Dame’s badly needed restoration and the lack of funds to complete it.
After more than 850 years, the cathedral was in “dire need of repairs,” the outlet reported.
“Pollution is the biggest culprit,” Philippe Villeneuve, architect in chief of historic monuments in France, told Time. “We need to replace the ruined stones. We need to replace the joints with traditional materials. This is going to be extensive.”
Money was a key issue because under French law, the government owns the cathedral and the Catholic Church uses it permanently for free. The church argued the government should pay for repairs but the government said the church was responsible for the cathedral’s upkeep.
The government provided some money but the Catholic Church has raised about a quarter of its $185 million goal through private donations from countries like the United States, Vice News reported.
“They think it was caused by renovation,” US President Donald Trump said Monday. “I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, what’s that all about?”