Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris ablaze

Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, one of France’s most visited sites.

Flames burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and quickly engulfed the spire, which collapsed.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area.

Firefighters cleared the area around the cathedral, which marks the very centre of Paris.

Seen from across the Seine River, smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris today, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire. France 2 television reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.

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 canceled his planned speech to the nation in light of the “terrible fire” underway at Paris’ Notre-Dame cathedral, said an official at the president’s Elysee office.

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

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

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed horror on Monday at the fire engulfing the historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Flames burn the roof of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris. (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)