PARIS – According to Parisian fire service and eyewitnesses, Notre Dame cathedral caught on fire on Monday, April 15. Footage shows fire spreading across the upper part of the cathedral and bell towers.
The spire on top of the iconic cathedral collapsed in the flames. It’s believed that the spire contained relics of the crown of thorns, Saint Genevieve, and Saint Dennis, as well as many Catholic art pieces. Many bishops are also buried in the cathedral.
Tourists were evacuated from the cathedral at the first signs of the fire. So far there are no reports of injuries.
Renovation work was being done on the building, and the fire could be linked to the construction, officials in Paris said.
Due to rush hour traffic, fire fighters had a difficult time reaching the scene.
On Twitter, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire brigade are trying to control the fire. We are mobilized locally in close connection with church authorities. I ask everyone to respect the security perimeter.”
The cathedral is considered to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture. Built in 1160 and completed in 1260, Notre Dame is almost 800 years old.
More than 12 million people visit Notre Dame each year, making it the most visited monument in Paris.
Even though the fire is still not under control, the Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into the cause of the Notre Dame fire.
This is a break news story. More information will be added as reports are released.
NBC’s special report is a live broadcast featuring updates and reviews. Bishop Robert Barron and George Weigel both gave commentary on the burning and destruction.