PARIS - The spire at the top of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral collapsed Monday as a massive fire engulfed the iconic Paris landmark.
Video posted to social media showed flames and thick plumes of smoke shooting from the cathedral, located in the heart of the French capital. As Paris firefighters battled the blaze, part of the spire of the 12-century monument fell.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known but a Notre Dame spokesman said the whole frame of the cathedral was burning.
French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is "potentially linked" to a $6.8 million renovation project on the church's spire and its 250 tons of lead.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called the incident a “terrible fire” and urged citizens to avoid the area on Twitter.
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 cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted after the blaze broke out that he was sad to see "a part of us being on fire" and extended "thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French."
Notre-Dame de Paris en proie aux flammes. Émotion de toute une nation. Pensée pour tous les catholiques et pour tous les Français. Comme tous nos compatriotes, je suis triste ce soir de voir brûler cette part de nous.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
The fire broke out just one day after the start of Holy Week for Christians, with Palm Sunday kicking off a week of holy days leading up to Easter Sunday on April 21.
This story was reported on from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.