Notre Dame, a Paris landmark that brings in millions of tourists every year was badly damaged in a fire that broke out in the evening on Monday.
Firefighters struggled to control the blaze which damaged the iconic spire and bell towers of the cathedral. The fire is believed to have started accidentally, and may have been caused by building work on the cathedral.
“Everything is burning,” said a spokesperson for the cathedral, André Finot, to French press. “Nothing will remain from the frame.”
Huge plumes of smoke filled the air around the city of Paris and many of the surrounding buildings were evacuated. No injuries or deaths have been reported at this time.
Not only were fire crews trying to contain the blaze, they were also working to save some of the priceless art housed in the cathedral.
“There are a lot of art works inside…it’s a real tragedy,” said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to reporters on the scene.
Tourists and Parisians alike were visibly moved by the catastrophic damage. Marie-Anna Ecorchard travelled from Brittany to visit her children who were living in Paris and saw the smoke rising from the cathedral while sitting at a nearby cafe.
“It’s dreadful,” Ecorchard said in an interview with the Guardian. “We’ve seen people sobbing, tears pouring down their faces. This is part of the heritage of Paris, not just of Paris but of all France. It’s just terrible to see such a magnificent building go up in flames. You feel it almost physically.”