A blaze is under way at the famed Notre Dame cathedral in the French capital, Paris, according to the city’s fire service.
Photos and videos circulating on social media on Monday showed flames coming out of the Gothic cathedral, with smoke billowing from the roof.
“A terrible fire is under way at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire. France 2 television reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.
According to AFP news agency, the fire was noticed at about 6:50pm local time (14:50 GMT).
The police urged people to avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles.
Notre Dame, Paris, is on fire and it feels like the end of the world. pic.twitter.com/qYYk7ewipq
— Shiv Malik (@shivmalik) April 15, 2019
Notre Dame is distinguished for its size, antiquity and architectural interest.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel the Hunchback of Notre Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year.
It was in the middle of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.
More to follow.