The French Interior Ministry said 400 firefighters have been mobilized to deal with the Notre Dame blaze. The cathedral's iconic spire collapsed earlier this evening. The central spire was built in the 19th century amid a broad restoration effort, partly buoyed by the success of Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" in 1831.
US President Donald Trump said Notre Dame's famous cathedral was struck by a “terrible, terrible fire."
“When we left the plane, it was burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn,” he said, referring to his trip from Washington to Minnesota for a tax-day roundtable with business leaders.
The President lamented the damage to the historic cathedral.
“That’s beyond countries, that’s beyond anything,” he said. “It’s a part of our culture.”
He said the fire would put “a damper” on the tax roundtable he was about to begin.
Listen to President Trump here:
Patryk Bukalski was at a café near the Notre Dame Cathedral when he started smelling smoke.
“A bartender said the Notre Dame is on fire, so I left and saw this horrible picture,” he told CNN over Instagram, where he posted a video of the burning cathedral.
He said people are standing outside, just watching and crying. “It’s horrible. It’s a symbol of Paris,” Bukalski said. “It’s just sad. I don’t know what more to say.”
At the scene: It is eerily quiet. Hundreds of people are lining the Seine watching the fire, but they are silent. Police have pushed people back, even telling residents they can’t go to their homes.
“In Paris, it’s a monumental symbol -- every person with different religions are really moved and saddened," said another witness named Anne Marie, speaking with tears in her eyes.
"Paris without the cathedral is not Paris anymore," she said.
See the crowds here:
French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, where a fire rages on.
He was accompanied by Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and first lady Brigitte Macron, as well as the Paris prosecutor.
Witness Elaine Leavenworth said ash and embers were falling from the sky as a fire tore through the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Leavenworth said she felt droplets of water as firefighters worked to douse the flames.
She shared this photo of a tiny piece of debris in the palm of a hand:
The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into the Notre Dame fire, a spokesman tells CNN.
The fire broke out Monday evening at the iconic cathedral in the heart of Paris.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the city "stands in sorrow" with Paris.
“Heartbreaking scenes of Notre Dame cathedral in flames. London stands in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always,” Khan wrote on Twitter.
As the spire of the Notre Dame cathedral collapsed, there were horrified gasps from the watching crowd. Sirens blare in the background, as emergency personnel work to put out the flames.
Watch it here:
US Vice President Mike Pence just tweeted about the ongoing Notre Dame fire.
"Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames," he tweeted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris."
See the tweet here: