Spire collapses as huge fire engulfs Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

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On Twitter, Hidalgo said: "A bad fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris".

"We pray that there will be no injuries, for the fire not to be intentional and for least possible damage to the Church", a statement released in Jerusalem said.

The Vatican, meanwhile, expressed its "incredulity" and "sadness" over the fire in the cathedral, which it called "a symbol of Christianity in France and across the world". Out thoughts with all Catholics and French people.

A cathedral spokesperson said the fire was first reported at 5.50pm GMT and the building was evacuated.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo released a brief statement on Twitter saying that firefighters are "trying to control the flames", and asked people to avoid the area. He suggested that France should get some "flying water tankers" to put out the blaze.

■The blaze, which spread extremely quickly, took hold in the loft of the building, firefighters told AFP.

Collins said he didn't expect any type of special mass in light of the Notre Dame fire.

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The United Nations' cultural agency said it "stood at France's side to save and restore" Notre Dame cathedral, "a priceless heritage".

In Montreal, the bells of the city's Notre-Dame Basilica rang out in solidarity this afternoon as the Paris landmark was consumed by flames. Previously, when discussing wildfire management in California, Trump had said that the problem was insufficient raking (really).

Ashley Creed, who studied medieval history at the University of Toronto, always knew seeing Notre-Dame Cathedral in person would be a moment she'd never forget.

A city hall spokesman said that the area was being cleared, while the fire department said a major operation was under way.

The Notre-Dame cathedral, a popular tourist attraction is undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.

Associated Press reporters at the scene saw massive plumes of yellow brown smoke filling the air above the Cathedral and ash falling on the island that houses Notre Dame and marks the center of Paris.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, the fire broke out in the attic of the historic monument before spreading to engulf a large section of the roof.