By Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times
PARIS — A large fire broke out at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris on Monday evening, causing part of the historic church’s spire to collapse as the blaze spread along its roof.
André Finot, a spokesman for the cathedral, said in a telephone interview that the cause of the fire remained unknown, and there was no immediate indication that anyone had been hurt.
The fire alarm went off around 6:30 p.m., Mr. Finot said, adding that the cathedral had been evacuated. Witnesses on nearby streets said that they had first noticed a bit of smoke rise up from the roof of the cathedral, which is currently covered in scaffolding.
Thousands of Parisians and tourists gathered on the banks of the Seine river and watched in shock as the fire tore through the cathedral’s wooden roof and brought down part of the spire. Video filmed by onlookers and shared on social media showed smoke and flames billowing from the top of the cathedral.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris said on Twitter that “a terrible fire” had struck at the cathedral.
“The Paris firefighters are currently trying to stop the flames,” Ms. Hidalgo said. “I ask everyone to respect the security boundaries.”
Firefighters were on the scene, said Mr. Finot, who was about 70 feet away from the cathedral.
The Paris police warned people to stay away from the area around the cathedral, which is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, drawing about 13 million visitors a year.
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral is currently undergoing extensive renovation work. Last week, several statues were lifted by crane from the spire.
“It hurts to watch this. The cathedral is the symbol, the heart of Paris,” said Pierre-Eric Trimovillas, 32. The crowd gasped and cried in horror as the spire fell, Mr. Trimovillas said, adding, “Paris is beheaded.”
Angelique de Almeida, 32, watched the fire through tears. “We are going to lose her, everything is up in flames,” she said. “We lose this, we lose Paris. It is apocalyptic. And this is the Holy Week.”
President Emmanuel Macron of France canceled a major speech that was scheduled for Monday evening, in which he was supposed to announce measures addressing the Yellow Vest protest movement that has roiled the country over the past months.