"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame", Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot said, according to the Associated Press. Authorities said later that massive fire destroyed two-thirds of the roof of the Cathedral. Video posted to social media shows the 750-ton spire that stood atop the cathedral collapse as the roof burns.
Flames jumped up the ornate spire before it collapsed onto the blaze-engulfed roof, sending smoke billowing out into the evening skyline of the French capital.
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".
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters near the scene that he will seek worldwide help, including the "greatest talents" in the world, to rebuild Notre Dame.
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Canada's CBC News reported that firefighters were also trying to salvage some of the cathedral's priceless works of art.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he was "sad to see a part of us burn tonight".
Notre Dame, built in the 12th and 13th centuries, has seen more than one overhaul in its time, with one of the most major happening between 1844 and 1864 when its spire and flying buttresses were revamped. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre Dame de Paris.
"The Holy See has reacted with shock and grief to the news of a awful fire that has ravaged Notre Dame de Paris, the symbol of faith in France and globally", he tweeted.
"It's frightful, it's 800 years of history gone up in smoke", said German tourist Katrin Recke.
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He recalled that Notre Dame bells sounded the death knell following the 2015 Paris attacks.
The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep a fire at Notre Dame from spreading and causing more destruction. "What a horror. I share the emotion of the French nation which is also ours". "My thoughts are with all the Catholics and all the French". "So awful to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris".
"Last January, I looked out over the Parisian skyline, all the more beautified by the cathedral's spire", he added.
A group of Americans had just finished visiting Notre Dame Cathedral and were in a nearby park when they heard it was on fire.
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