Witnesses share horror as Notre Dame Cathedral is engulfed in flames

‘I see no hope for the building’: Witnesses share their horror as the Notre Dame Cathedral is engulfed in flames

  • The fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral was first reported at 5.50pm on Monday
  • Hundreds of Parisians and tourists watched on with many of them lost for words 
  • Those watching around the world took to social media to share their sadness

Notre Dame Cathedral has gone up in flames this evening in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, leaving the city, France, and the international community distraught. 

Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

While a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area, Parisians and tourists watched on, some of them lost for words and others keen to share their sadness.   

‘Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building,’ said witness Jacek Poltorak, watching the fire from a fifth-floor balcony two blocks from the southern facade of the cathedral, one of France’s most visited places. 

Notre Dame Cathedral has gone up in flames this evening in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark

Horrified onlookers watch as the iconic cathedral goes up in flames on Monday evening

One man currently in the city wrote on Twitter: ‘Unreal. I literally just visited Notre Dame two days ago. I’m currently looking at the smoke from a restaurant patio in Paris right now’. 

Others described the tragedy of never being able to see the Notre Dame as it was before the blaze. 

‘Sad I’ll never get to see Notre Dame,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘It’s on my bucket list and now one of the historic landmarks is just gone! Thoughts go out to France’.

‘Terrible seeing the Notre Dame in flames. Art and history turned to ashes. So glad no one has been hurt. Paris we are with you and will be there to see it restored. Shocking news,’ another social media user said. 

Reaction: Those watching the tragedy unfold around the world were quick to take to social media

Ashley Huntington, 21, an American university student studying in Paris, said: ‘Our class ran what was supposed to be 30 minutes walking but we probably got here in 20 running. 

‘It just looks like it’s out of control. I’ve never seen a fire in real life but the flames keep getting bigger and bigger. I don’t think it’s getting better at all.’  

‘Notre Dame is perhaps one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever set foot in, and watching it burn down is absolutely soul crushing,’ read one Twitter post.  

‘I have a lot of friends who live abroad and every time they come I tell them to go to Notre Dame,’ said witness Samantha Silva, with tears in her eyes.

‘I’ve visited it so many times, but it will never be the same. It’s a real symbol of Paris.’

Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris.


A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris 

A woman and boy stand at the window of an apartment as they watch the flames on the roof of the Notre-Dame Cathedral


While a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area, Parisians and tourists watched on, some of them lost for words

People stand on a bridge looking at smoke and flames rising during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris

Buildings around were evacuated and nobody was injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: ‘It’s too early to determine the causes of the fire.’ 

France 2 television reported that police were treating it as an accident. 

‘Everything is collapsing,’ a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.   

‘Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,’ President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. 

Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roo

Tourists and those living in Paris watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burning in central Paris

People sit and watch as the flames blaze through the landmark building in Paris, France

‘There are a lot of art works inside…it’s a real tragedy,’ Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said at the scene. 

Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze. 

The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding and bronze statues were removed last week for works.

The wood and lead spire was built during a restoration in the mid-19th century, according to the cathedral’s website.

The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo’s classic novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year.

The Gothic cathedral is famed for its many carved stone gargoyles, stunning stained glass windows and the flying buttresses that hold up its walls.

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