Paris – World famous Paris Cathedral the Notre Dame is being ravaged by a major fire which has spread to the medieval building’s spire.
French President Emmanuel Macron has cancelled his planned address to the nation as the cathedral continues to burn, sending smoke billowing out over the River Seine.
Witnesses are describing ash falling as flames burst from the burning cathedral, sparking fears for the 850-year-old building at the heart of Paris.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, as Paris firefighters evacuate the area to fight the inferno.
The fire broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris this afternoon, a spokesman from the fire department said.
Smoke could be seen billowing out from the top of the medieval cathedral, as flames leapt out besides its two bell towers, a Reuters witness said.
A major operation was underway, the fire department added, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.
There were initial fears that the fire could be linked to renovation work in the Cathedral, but nothing was confirmed.
“Our priority is putting the fire out before working out what caused it,” said an emergency services spokesman.
Flames could be seen billowing out of the ancient Catholic place of worship soon after 7 pm, as emergency services vehicles rushed to the scene.
The bones of the centuries-old building are visibly exposed by the flames emanating from between the building’s bell towers.
‘An evacuation is in progress,’ said a police officer at the scene. ‘People are being advised to clear the area.’