Authorities are responding to a massive fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, where video posted to social media shows the historic monument appearing nearly engulfed in smoke and flames.
Firefighters responded to the scene around 7 p.m. local time on Monday, Le Monde reported.
The gravity of the fire is still to be determined, but firefighters told the local news outlet that the blaze was in the cathedral’s attic.
One video appears to show the monument’s towering spire collapse as onlookers gasp from down below.
The fire is “potentially linked” to renovation work in the building, firefighters told Agence France-Presse.
André Finot, a spokesperson for the cathedral, expressed concern that the fire’s destruction will be beyond repair.
“Everything is burning. The framework, which dates from the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other, there will be nothing left,” he told Le Monde. “We have to see if the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not.”
Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy to the mayor, said on local station BFM TV, according to Le Monde, that they have begun working “to try to save all the works of art that can be [saved.]”
Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo shared photos of the fire on Twitter and urged the public to keep a safe distance. France’s President Emmanuel Macron postponed a major speech Monday evening due to the incident, according to AFP.
In a Twitter message, Macron said the emotion felt amid the flames is shared by all of France.
“Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burning,” he stated.
The medieval Catholic cathedral, famous for its French Gothic architecture, is roughly 856 years old with construction having begun in 1163, according to its website.
The monument, which does not charge admission, sees approximately 13 million visitors per year. Financial efforts to restore and preserve the church have been underway for some time amid concerns that it is eroding and crumbling.
Such restoration efforts led to last week’s removal of several copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists from the church’s spire. The statues were being sent to southwest France as part of a $6.8 million renovation project, The Associated Press reported.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.