Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most beloved Gothic landmarks in Paris and Europe, is engulfed by flames this evening as a major fire broke out on the cathedral’s roof. As detailed by The Guardian, it is believed that the fire may be linked to restoration works currently underway. Video footage below shows the iconic spire of the 850-year-old Gothic building collapsing, with fears that the cathedral’s wooden interior is under threat. In a glimmer of hope, fire officials have confirmed that the main structure has been “saved and preserved.”.
The fire reached the North tower of the cathedral’s two bell towers which, along with the main structure, are now believed to be safe following efforts by emergency services. The main task facing fire personnel is now the recovery of precious artwork at the back of the cathedral, some dating hundreds of years old.
The fire broke out on Monday evening at 17:50 local time, with flames bursting through the roof of the cathedral. Smoke and ash were reported across the city over a large area as flames moved towards the cathedral’s two bell towers. The fire has claimed the cathedral’s spire, a 19th-century addition constructed of a wood and lead structure. The French President Emmanuel Macron is attending the scene, having canceled a planned speech to the nation. There are currently no reports of deaths, however one fireman has been seriously injured.
Buildings around the island on which the cathedral sits have been evacuated, as thousands of people gather on the left bank of the Seine to watch helplessly on. Meanwhile, tributes have been expressed from across the political world, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker, and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Construction on the cathedral, which is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, began in 1163. The structure was completed in 1345, and now hosts 13 million people every year, an average of over 30,000 per day. The cathedral is currently undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, prompting fears that the structure may be unstable. Last week, bronze statues were removed from the cathedral while work was underway.