The world has reacted with shock and sadness after the 850-year-old Notre Dame caught fire today in Paris, France, and quickly burned out of control. Bright orange flames and thick plumes of smoke were seen rising above the historic building as stunned onlookers watched on in horror. One firefighter has been seriously injured among the teams tackling the blaze and the extent of his injuries are not yet known. Fire teams were no match for the blaze’s awesome power as it tore through the 12th-century landmark, considered to be one of the world’s best forms of French Gothic architecture.
Elizabeth Caille, 58, who lives close to the cathedral, said: “I’m devastated.
“It’s a symbol of Paris. It’s a symbol of Christianity. It’s a whole world that is collapsing.”
Is Notre Dame still on fire? How long will it be burning?
The fire is still raging at the time of writing but French fire officials have confirmed the two bell towers have been saved.
The junior French interior minister has said there is more optimism now than a few hours ago that the Notre Dame can be saved.
Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said earlier outside the cathedral that “we are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading”.
He added: “If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be.”
His teams earlier scrambled to save precious artwork and valuables trapped inside the burning building.
Thousands of onlookers have lined bridges and embankments along the Seine to witness the inferno.
The fire started shortly before 7pm local time, quickly spreading to the roof of the cathedral and spire.
Not long afterward the spire collapsed completely, causing a massive plume of smoke to waft across the city.
Saddened groups of people watched powerless as the historic landmark became a fireball.
President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweeted.
How has the world reacted?
There has been an outpouring of grief online about Notre Dame’s devastation from world leaders past and present.
Tweets have been made by Prime Minister Theresa May, President Donald Trump, former US president Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkle.
The Vatican said in a statement: “The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Church bells around France have been ringing in solidarity.
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