Fire breaks out at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

YouTube accidentally links Notre Dame fire to 9/11 attacks

Smoke and flames could be seen from the top of the cathedral.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo sent out a message to residents of the city via Twitter: "A awful fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris".

A major operation is under way to tackle the blaze, which broke out in the afternoon, and an area surrounding the building in central Paris has been cleared, it quoted officials as saying.

"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame", Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media, according to the Associated Press.

US President Donald Trump has suggested "perhaps flying water tankers" to extinguish the fire.

Its 100-metre-long (330-foot) roof, of which a large section was consumed in the first hour of the blaze, was one of the oldest such structures in Paris, according to the cathedral's website. Shortly before, the spire of the cathedral was consumed by the flames as well.

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Firefighters believe the blaze is "potentially linked" to the renovation work of the building, reports Le Figaro. The building is under renovation and France 24, an worldwide news channel, reported that the entire roof of the cathedral had collapsed. It's unclear if anyone has been hurt.

President Emmanuel Macron postponed his 8pm speech to head to the site of the fire.

French media reported that the fire was caused by ongoing renovation work.

As the fire spread, Macron tweeted, "Our Lady of Paris in flames". Hidalgo urged residents to stay away from the security perimeter around the Gothic-style church.

"That is just like a dagger to the heart of Paris to see that happening", NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson said on live television as video of a spire falling played on screen.

The cathedral was immortalized in Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", published in 1831, and has always been a subject of fascination in popular culture as well as the traditional art world.

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