Huge Fire Devastates Notre-Dame Cathedral
A French firefighter official says the structure of Notre-Dame Cathedral has been saved from total destruction, a view echoed by a junior French interior minister.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters were optimistic they could salvage its main towers from the fast-moving flames.
But the massive fire that consumed the cathedral on Monday had already destroyed the spire and the roof of the historic Paris landmark.
Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.
Distraught Parisians and stunned tourists gazed in disbelief as the inferno raged. Thousands of onlookers lined bridges over the River Seine and along its embankments, held at a distance by a police cordon.
Witnesses said the whole island, the Ile de la Cite, was being evacuated.
"Everything is collapsing," a police officer near the scene said as the cathedral continued to burn.
World leaders expressed shock and sent condolences to the French people. President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was distressed. "Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," he tweeted.
A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. People watching gasped as the spire folded over onto itself and fell into the inferno.
More to come.
Image: Getty Marc Piasecki / Contributor