PHOTOS: Fire breaks out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, a searing loss for the city and for France.

Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watched on, many of them lost for words.

"Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

"Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building," said witness Jacek Poltorak, watching the fire from a fifth-floor balcony two blocks from the southern facade of the cathedral, one of France's most visited places.

Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre-Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris.

Buildings around were evacuated.

The steeple collapses as smoke and flames engulf the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)

Nobody was injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: "It's too early to determine the causes of the fire." France 2 television reported that police were treating it as an accident.

"Everything is collapsing," a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.

Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze.

The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo's classic novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame". It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year.

The Gothic cathedral is famed for its many carved stone gargoyles, stunning stained glass windows and the flying buttresses that hold up its walls.

"There are a lot of art works inside...it's a real tragedy," Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters at the scene.

The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding and bronze statues were removed last week for works.

The wood and lead spire was built during a restoration in the mid-19th century, according to the cathedral's website. (Reuters)

People kneel on the pavement as they pray outside watching flames engulf Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

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Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (Photo: Lori Hinant/AP)
Notre-Dame de Paris, a Catholic cathedral founded in the 11th century, has caught fire. (Photo: Stoyan Vassev/TASS via Getty Images)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)
Smokes ascends as flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Pierre Galey/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burning in central Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Smoke billows from the Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Julie Carriat/Reuters)
This general view from the entrance shows smoke rising in front of the altar cross at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, after a fire engulfed the building. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Pool/Getty Images)
Plumes of smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows near scaffolding as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. (Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
People watch from a bridge as smoke billows from Notre Dame Cathedral during a fire in Paris, France April 15, 2019. (Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Hubert Hitier/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)
Emergency services tackle a fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, a Catholic cathedral founded in the 11th century. (Photo: Stoyan Vassev/TASS via Getty Images)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Pierre Galey/AFP/Getty Images)
The steeple of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral collapses as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
A man watches the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn, engulfed in flames, in central Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows from†Notre†Dame†Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France April 15, 2019. (Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters)
A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Patrick Anidjar/AFP/Getty Images)
Plumes of smoke rises from Notre Dame cathedral burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of smoke fills the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is reported to be falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (Photo: AP)
Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)
Sparks fill the air as Paris Fire brigade members spray water to extinguish flames as the Notre Dame Cathedral burns in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral April 15, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo: Pierre Suu/Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)
A firefighter uses a hose to douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (Photo: Michel Euler/AP)
Firefighters douse flames rising from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)
Fire fighters douse flames of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. (Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)
Fire fighters douse flames of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. (Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters)
People pray as Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (Photo: Christophe Ena/AP)
Paris Fire brigade members are seen at an entrance that looks into the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)
Bystanders look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises around the altar in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Pool/Reuters)

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