On 15 April, a large-scale fire broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France at approximately 17:50 local time.
Reports indicate that flames initially burst through the roof of Notre Dame and completely collapsed its main spire. Due to damage to the interior of the cathedral, the entire structure may ultimately be destroyed.
A major emergency response operation is currently underway in an attempt to extinguish the blaze and also save artwork and other valuable items. There have been no confirmed fatalities or injuries stemming from the incident. Local authorities have cordoned off streets and closed metro stations in the vicinity of the cathedral and have warned residents to avoid the area until further notice.
Reports have not yet confirmed a cause for the fire and police are currently treating it as an accident. Notre Dame had been undergoing extensive renovations, and reporting indicates that the fire may have begun in the attic during maintenance work. Paris authorities have opened an official investigation into the incident.
Notre Dame Cathedral is situated on a small island called the Ile de La Cite in the middle of the Seine River in the city’s fourth arrondissement. The structure took more than 182 years to build and was completed in 1345.
It has long been considered a historic piece of medieval Gothic architecture and remains the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Time, weather and neglect have contributed to its deteriorating condition over the years before a major renovation project was commissioned in 2018 at the cost of approximately USD $180 million (EU 159,257,700).
Despite the extensive renovation project, the cathedral has remained open to the public and a Catholic mass service is still offered every Sunday. The building can hold more than 6,000 people and boasts iconic stained glass windows, gargoyles and flying buttresses. With its history, aesthetic appeal and capacity for crowds, Notre Dame is one of Paris’ most famous landmarks and tourist attractions. An estimated 13 million people visit the cathedral each year.
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