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  • Smoke billows from Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France April 15, 2019.

    Smoke billows from Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France April 15, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 April 2019

The incident is "potentially linked" to the renovations of the building, the fire department told AFP. 

A major fire broke out at the medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday afternoon, leading firefighters to clear the area around one of the city's most visited landmarks.

Smoke could be seen billowing out from the top of the gothic cathedral, as flames leaped out besides its two bell towers, a Reuters witness said.

The incident is "potentially linked" to the renovations of the building, the fire department told AFP. 

The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo's classic novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year.

"A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris," Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after the news broke speaking of the emotion of "a whole nation" and expresses his support to all "Catholics" and all "French."

A major operation was underway, the fire department said, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.

"Support and admiration for the forces of #rescuers and #safety mobilized to extinguish, in tough conditions, the fire of #OurDame #Paris"

Notre-Dame was in renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

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