Spire Falls At Paris' Notre Dame As Cathedral Is Engulfed In Flames

Renovations had been underway at the cathedral

A major operation was under way, the fire department said, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared. We won't know more until the fire dies down and recovery crews are able to investigate the cathedral.

The idea that firefighters "must act quickly" needed to be said was absurd and offensive when it obviously goes without saying that officials in Paris were working to halt the damage as quickly as possible.

"Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world - and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames", Pence tweeted Monday. France's President Emmanuel Macron will be visiting the site later, according to a government spokesperson.

France's civil security agency says "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.

â– The Associated Press reported around 9 p.m. that the mammoth blaze had spread from the spire to one of the church's rectangular towers.

"This fire is nowhere under control - it's getting worse before our eyes", said CNN correspondent Melissa Bell.

"Our Lady of Paris in flames".

Thick clouds of smoke filled the skies above the capital as the cathedral burned.

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A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church's entire wooden interior was in flames.

Notre Dame is not a parish church, meaning that it does not have a regular body of worshippers who "belong" to the church.

The rose windows - Notre Dame's north, south and west rose windows are described on the cathedral's website as "one of the greatest masterpieces of Christianity".

The cathedral has played host to a litany of leaders and historical figures over its more than 800-year history. The fire appears to have started in the roof where work is taking place.

On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze. "Like all our compatriots, I'm sad tonight to see this part of ourselves burn". "My thoughts are with the people of France as a masterpiece of European gothic is at risk of being destroyed".

And every year during Holy Week, Notre Dame unveils some of the most coveted relics in Christendom.

"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.

Deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said emergency services were trying to salvage the famed art pieces stored in the cathedral.

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