Parts of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris destroyed after fire

epa07508706 Flames on the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, 15 April 2019. A fire started in the late afternoon in one of the most visited monuments of the French capital. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

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Firefighters are battling a massive blaze at the French capital’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, where flames and black smoke were seen shooting from the base of the medieval church’s spire on Monday.

The Paris prosecutor’s office has launched an inquiry into the fire, with local media reporting that investigators are treating it as an accident

Euronews reports that smoke could be seen billowing out from the top of the medieval cathedral, as well as flames beside its two bell towers, a Reuters witness said.

Witnesses are reporting that the flames have spread to one of Notre-Dame’s iconic rectangular towers.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said he saw flames blazing behind an oblong stained-glass window in the tower.

Paris police say fighters are inside the cathedral working to put the flames out while others work from the exterior. Red smoke is pouring out of the cathedral.

A major operation was underway, the fire department added, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.”

The BBC reports that images on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the air above the the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Last year, the Catholic Church in France launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the cathedral, which was starting to crumble.

French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a major speech on Monday evening after the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral caught fire.

Macron had been due to give a televised address to outline measures he plans to take following nationwide public debates held in response to the Yellow Jackets protest movement.

POLITICO reports that on Twitter, Macron said the fire had touched the emotions of the nation. “My thoughts are with all Catholics and all French people. Like all of our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of us burning.”

The large fire at the iconic cathedral was “potentially linked” to renovation works, France Info reported, citing firefighters.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “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!”

This is a developing story.

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