A major fire ripped through Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris late Monday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of visitors and causing French President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a planned speech to the nation.
Live television footage showed flames engulfing the roof and spire, and smoke billowing out into the evening skyline of the French capital. The cathedral, located on an island in the middle of the Seine River, has been under renovation, with scaffolding covering much of the roof.
Thousands of onlookers were being kept at a distance by police as ashes fell onto streets surrounding the monument. The cathedral is a major tourist destination and visited by up to 50,000 people a day.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighers were on the scene and she asked everyone to respect the security perimeter.
Macron was also headed to the scene after postponing a much-anticipated speech on planned policy measures following a long series of violent protests by the Yellow Vest movement that rocked the capital.
Fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.Photographer: Francois Guillot/AFP via Getty Images
Even President Donald Trump was following the fire.
Construction to build the cathedral got underway in the 12th century, though the current arrangements of are mostly the result of renovations carried out in the 19th century following damage during the French Revolution.
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