Fire Engulfs 850-Year-Old Notre Dame Cathedral In Paris

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10 Catholic churches were attacked in one week shortly before Notre Dame fire

A massive fire has broken out at the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris.

The fire broke out in the attic of the historic monument before spreading to engulf a large section of the roof according to Le Monde

A spokesperson for the cathedral said the blaze was reported at 5.50pm (GMT) and the building was evacuated soon after.

The Paris fire department say the blaze is quickly spreading and a major operation is underway.

Update* Two hours after the fire started, the spire of the cathedral collapsed in flames. 

The BBC reports: The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.

Images on social media show plumes of smoke billowing into the air above the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Last year, the Catholic Church in France launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the cathedral, which was starting to crumble.

A major operation is under way to tackle the blaze, which broke out on Monday afternoon. An area surrounding the building in central Paris has been cleared, officials said.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, described it as a “terrible fire” and urged people at the scene to respect the boundaries set up by fire crews in order to ensure that they remain safe.