notre dame fire

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 by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

PARIS (AP/WAND) — The massive fire in Paris has spread to one of Notre Dame's iconic rectangular towers.

The soaring spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman says the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark is burning and likely to be destroyed.

A massive fire engulfed the roof of the cathedral in the heart of the French capital on Monday afternoon as Parisians watched in horror.

Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: "Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame."

The cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.

Speaking to BFMTV, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said first responders are now trying to salvage that art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the building. Witnesses say the smoke could be seen from miles away in the French capital. 

The city's fire department said a major operation was underway and a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.

The cathedral dates back to 1160. It is considered one of the world's greatest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says firefighters are trying to contain the "terrible fire.'

An AP reporter at the scene of Monday's fire says the roof at the back of the cathedral, behind the nave, is in flames and yellow-brown smoke and ash fill the sky.

The peak of the church is undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project.

French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is "potentially linked" to the renovation work.

Paris Police are saying the cause of the fire is unknown.

A church spokesman has told French media that all of Notre Dame Cathedral's frame is burning after spire collapsed.

Hidalgo urged residents of the French capital to stay away from the security perimeter around the Gothic-style church. The mayor says city officials are in touch with Roman Catholic diocese in Paris.

Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into the fire.

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