By Shelby Brown, April 15, 2019, cnet.com
Almost 1,000 years of French history is burning.
A massive fire broke out at Paris’ historical Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, with videos of the blaze at the 850-year-old building flooding Twitter and other social media sites.
After the cathedral closed around 6:45 p.m. local time, the fire started five or six minutes later, according to France 24.
“Firefighters may not be able to save Notre Dame,” a statement from the French Interior Ministry said in a statement.
‘Everything is burning’
Though authorities say it’s too early to determine the cause of the fire, the flames were accelerated by the windy day. The streets, the heat of the flames and the Parisian landmark’s positioning near the River Seine made it difficult for firefighters to get closer.
At around 7:53 p.m. local time, the cathedral’s iconic spire fell after being consumed by flames. Less than 15 minutes later, part of the roof collapsed, Reuters reported. The Island where the cathedral is located, Paris’ Ile de la Cité, was evacuated just before 8:30 p.m.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot told CBS News.
What caused the fire?
Authorities have not yet figured out how the fire started or given much detail about how they’re putting it out.
Fire services told reporters that it’s possible the cause of the fire might be related to the $6.8 million renovation efforts that have been underway.
At this time, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
A city united
Much like after the terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015, the world is sending its support to a city in shock and mourning. France 24 reported that people have gathered and are singing Ave Maria and Catholic hymns.
“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,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. France 24 reported that Macron is treating the fire as a national emergency.
Others reached out to Paris as well.
Like millions around the world we are watching closely the tragic fire engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. We pray for first responders & all in the vicinity of this sacred church. We stand close with our friends in the @dioceseparis #NotreDameCathedral
— Cardinal Seán (@CardinalSean) April 15, 2019
Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo also tweeted about the news. Hildalgo’s tweet translates to: A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. They @PompiersParis’re trying to control the flames. We are mobilized on site in close connection with the @dioceseParis. I invite each and every one to respect the perimeter of security.
Un terrible incendie est en cours à la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Les @PompiersParis sont en train de tenter de maîtriser les flammes. Nous sommes mobilisés sur place en lien étroit avec le @dioceseParis. J’invite chacune et chacun à respecter le périmètre de sécurité. pic.twitter.com/9X0tGtlgba
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) April 15, 2019
The race to save history
While the Gothic cathedral is a masterpiece itself, inside its walls contain some of the most famous works of art ever created. The cathedral is known for its flying buttresses, breathtaking stained glass windows, carved gargoyles and more.
Authorities are trying to save the precious paintings, furniture and statues from the cathedral that inspired Victor Hugo’s famous novel, Disney’s 1996 cartoon and musical adaptions on Broadway.
This is a developing story.
Originally published April 15, 1:09 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:20 p.m. PT: Adds more details.