'850 years of history taken down in 5 minutes': Outpouring of emotion as Notre Dame spire collapses
The world is looking on in horror this evening as Notre Dame in Paris continues to burn.
The iconic cathedral in the French capital caught alight earlier this afternoon.
Its spire collapsed after 7pm when flames burst through the roof.
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) April 15, 2019
A major firefighting operation is under way and the area has been evacuated.
Dropping water from helicopters to extinguish the blaze has been ruled out as the weight of the water would cause the entire building to collapse, according to France's civil defence and crisis management agency.
There are no reports of any casualties.
Crowds have gathered as the blaze ravaged the 850-year-old structure.
Reports say that the thousands of onlookers have begun to sing hymns.
There has been an emotional reaction to the fire online, with many sharing favourite memories of visiting the cathedral.
It took 200 years to be completely built.
850 years of history
Taken down in fire in a matter of 5 minutes
— Tomas Perez (@Tomasperez231) April 15, 2019
— Dreamland (@Dreamla51808866) April 15, 2019
— Tadgh Brennan ?️? (@TheTadghB) April 15, 2019
— Wendy Davies (@JustWendy6) April 15, 2019
— Yasmeen Ghaddar (@GhaddarYasmeen) April 15, 2019
The landmark, which has made up part of the city's skyline for over 850 years, had been undergoing renovations.
The fire is believed to be related to this building work.