A renowned Paris cathedral caught on fire on Monday, the BBC reports. Videos of the Notre Dame fire took off across social media, showing the back portion of the building engulfed in flames as tourists gathered to watch on the street below. It was too early on Monday afternoon to gauge the extent of the damage.
No official cause was immediately determined. French officials told the BBC that the blaze may have been linked to ongoing renovation efforts.
Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo confirmed in a tweet that the cathedral was on fire. She asked that people stay away from the area as firefighters worked to get the flames under control, according to reports.
“A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris," she wrote, according to a translation provided by CNN. "The fire brigade are trying to control the fire. We are mobilized locally in close connection with church authorities. I ask everyone to respect the security perimeter.”
Video footage showed flames erupting from the building, which is over 850 years old. Massive smoke billows were seen pouring into the sky.
Cathedral spokesperson André Finot told The New York Times that fire alarms went off around 6:30 p.m. local time. At that point, the cathedral was evacuated, he told the Times.
The Washington Post reported that the back of the cathedral's roof was burned through as of early afternoon EST. The central spire, per the Post was completely surrounded by flames. Shortly thereafter, it collapsed, according to video footage shared to Twitter.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the fire shortly after news of the blaze broke. He suggested that firefighters might try to tackle the fire from above.
"So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris," he wrote. "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"
The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most iconic sites in Paris. CNN reports that the site attracts about 13 million visitors every year.
French President Emmanuel Macron had been schedule to deliver a televised speech on Monday night, but postponed the event because of the fire, Politico reports. "Notre Dame of Paris in flames," he said in a tweet, per CNN. "Emotion for a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn."
"The roof has entirely collapsed, there are flames coming out the back of the cathedral as if it was a torch," French 24 journalist Charli James reported.
As the afternoon wore on, many high-profile American figures weighed in on the event. Among them was Melania Trump.
"My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral," the first lady tweeted. "Praying for everyone’s safety."
As the fire wore on, it appeared the landmark had been devastated.
"There will be nothing left," a cathedral spokesperson told the BBC. "It remains to be seen whether the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not."
Only time will reveal the extent of the damage. In the interim, onlookers around the world mourned the devastation on social media.