A fire has broken out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and officials are saying that it isn’t nearly under control. Photos and video indicate that orange flames are now visible through the large billows of smoke.
BBC World News is reporting that news broke on social media that plumes of smoke were emerging from the 850-year-old Gothic church which is a fixture in the middle of the city on the bank of the Seine River. Photos show the scaffolding around the cathedral where craftsmen were working on the building, which requires repair and upkeep.
Last year, the Catholic Church started a campaign to repair the medieval building, which was starting to crumble.
Fire boats are approaching the scene, but at this time, there is no active intervention or efforts to extinguish the flames.
CNN says that sources are saying that this Easter week, in particular, attracts many tourists to the iconic cathedral, and there are normally queues of people waiting to get in. Police are advising that crowds clear the area quickly for safety reasons.
“Notre Dame Fire in progress. Avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles and intervention of the @prefpolice.”
Flames are now visible throughout the building as cinders are dropping from the spires.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 15, 2019
Melissa Bell, the reporter on the scene for CNN, said that her hair was being burnt by the soot and cinders that are falling from the building. Bell says she was watching as one of the spires was engulfed and fell through the roof of the great building.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the 13th century, is located on an island, Île de la Cité, and welcomes 13 million visitors every year.
This has the very worrisome potential of being turned into a Reichstag-like conspiracy theory by the French far right.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) April 15, 2019
On Twitter, Donald Trump suggested an alternative method to tackle the fire.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”
This sparked a number of comments about the president’s concern for a Paris fire, but a reported lukewarm reaction to the fires which spread through California. Hill reporter Brian Krassenstein expressed exasperation that this is the news item which has captured Trump’s attention.
“Trump is apparently an expert at fighting Cathedral fires overseas, but when it comes to natural fires in American forests, he wants nothing to do with them.”
CNN says at this time it is not known what caused the fire and if anyone was injured when the building burst into flames.