'This cathedral will be rebuilt', pledges Macron as crews halt spread of Notre Dame blaze

Picture: PA

Latest: The structure of Notre Dame has been saved after a huge fire destroyed parts of the famous cathedral, according to a fire chief in Paris.

The update came after officials earlier warned that firefighters may not be able to stop the huge blaze which tore through the cathedral.

Speaking outside the cathedral, fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet had told reporters he was “not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading” to Notre Dame’s second tower and belfry, but he later said they had been successful in stopping it spreading to the northern belfry of the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Speaking at the scene, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild Notre Dame, and said he will seek international help to do so.

I say to you very solemnly this evening, this cathedral will be rebuilt.

He thanked the fire fighters who worked "with extreme courage" over the course of the evening to fight the blaze and who would continue to do so.

He said that "the worst has been avoided but the battle hasn't been won yet".

The fire began on Monday evening, with first reports emerging of smoke in the cathedral shortly before 6pm.

The last visitors of the day were evacuated and the Paris Fire Brigade began to fight flames which had emerged from the cathedral’s roof.

A French official said that while the source of the fire was unknown, it could be linked to renovation works to fix Notre Dame’s historic stone walls and buttresses.

The fire first brought down the cathedral’s 315ft (96m) spire, and has spread to one of its two towers, which form its famed frontage.

Notre Dame is one of the city’s oldest and most recognisable buildings, and work began on it in 1163.

The original structure was completed nearly 200 years later, in 1345, and its name literally translates to “Our Lady of Paris”.

Some 13 million people now visit the Catholic landmark every year – more than 30,000 every day on average – according to its official website, and it is believed to be the most visited structure in the French capital.

The renovation works were estimated to cost around €150 million.

(PA Graphics)

Notre Dame fire: Fire chief 'not sure' they can stop blaze from spreading

Update 9.30pm: The Paris fire chief said it is unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep the blaze at the Notre Dame cathedral from spreading and causing more destruction.

Earlier this evening, a catastrophic fire engulfed the world-famous cathedral, toppling its spire and threatening the entire wooden frame of the building.

Firefighters douse flames rising from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Picture: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Jean-Claude Gallet, speaking outside the cathedral, said "we are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading" to Notre Dame's second tower and belfry.

He said: "If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be."

French President Emmanuel Macron is at the scene of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, and is meeting senior police officers.

A firefighter tackles the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

'Our Lady of Paris in flames': World reacts as fire engulfs Notre Dame cathedral

Update 8.30pm: A catastrophic fire has engulfed the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, toppling its spire and threatening the entire wooden frame of the building.

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived at the scene of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, and is meeting senior police officers.

He tweeted earlier: "Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn."

The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered "colossal damages", and the emergency services were trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.

A cathedral spokesman said the entire wooden interior was burning and likely to be destroyed.

Officials said the fire may be linked to renovation work at one of the world's most famous tourist attractions, French media reported.

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation into the blaze as the fire was still burning out of control, and the authorities said no-one had been hurt.

Hundreds of people on bridges around Notre Dame in Paris, watching in shock as fire engulfs the famed cathedral.

Photos and videos on social media show the roof of the 850-year-old Gothic building covered in flames, issuing a plume of smoke above the city.

The Paris fire brigade can be seen in videos dousing the blaze with water.

A church spokesman said all of the cathedral's frame was burning after the spire collapsed.

The emergency services were trying to salvage the priceless artwork stored in the cathedral.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo described it as a "terrible fire" and urged people at the scene to stay safe.

Picture: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

President Michael D Higgins said that the building is "part of a shared global cultural heritage".

"I would like to express the feelings of solidarity of the Irish people with the people of France at the catastrophic damage to one of the most iconic buildings in Europe - a building which the people of Paris have shared with millions from all over the world."

The Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered many instances of catastrophic damage over the centuries, and it is my hope that it will survive this latest terrible catastrophe.

World leaders, politicians and other famous figures have taken to social media to express their upset at the fire.

Famous Notre Dame spire collapses as fire engulfs the Gothic cathedral

Update 6.40pm: The spire at Notre Dame Cathedral has collapsed after a fire broke out at the famous Gothic cathedral this evening.

The fire broke out at the famous cathedral in the French capital, Paris, shortly after 6pm.

Pictures circulating on social media showed flames coming out of the Gothic cathedral and plumes of smoke billowing from its roof.

Footage showing its famous spire collapsing also emerged online.

The cause of the fire is said to potentially involve the renovation works being carried out at the site, the Parisian fire service said.

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images.

US President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that the fire was put out with “flying water tankers”.

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” he wrote.

“Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, this evening. Massive plumes of yellow-brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. Photo: AP/Lori Hinant.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo described it as a “terrible fire” and urged people at the scene to stay safe.

Ashley Huntington, 21, an American university student studying in Paris, said: “Our class ran what was supposed to be 30 minutes walking but we probably got here in 20 running.

“You could just get close and see the smoke. The smoke is everywhere in the sky. It seems like more pieces of the scaffolding are currently falling.

“The back roof has collapsed, the two towers are still intact but the middle part is totally up in flames and you can start to see the scaffolding.

“The top scaffolding has all gone now.

“There is a complete emptiness in the middle section.

“It just looks like it’s out of control. I’ve never seen a fire in real life but the flames keep getting bigger and bigger. I don’t think it’s getting better at all.

“The police right now are definitely making sure the public is cleared away. We keep getting pushed further and further away.”

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images.

Picture: @slopezserra/PA Wire

Additional reporting PA

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