The people of Paris stood in silent grief on Monday at sunset, watching with horrified disbelief as the iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame was slowly reduced to rubble amid a towering wall of flames.
The fire began just five or six minutes after the cathedral, which has been under renovation for serious cracks that appeared in the structure, had closed for the day.
Ashes mixed with water rained down from the skies in Paris as firefighters tried desperately to contain, if not successfully extinguish the flames devouring the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
It was decided not to use an air drop with water because the weight would prove to be too much for the fragile structure and entire demolish whatever might remain.
Firefighters also worked tirelessly to protect and attempt to prevent the spread of flames to the two cathedral towers in the buildings nearby, but news outlets later said one of the towers caught fire.
Notre Dame welcomed between 30,000 to 50,000 visitors into its quiet, history-packed halls each day.
French President Emmanuel Macron soon arrived at the scene of the blaze, and entered a meeting with police to discuss the issue.
The cause of the fire is not known; $6.8 million renovations at the 850-year-old structure were underway and expected to be completed sometime later this year.
Although the building is owned by the secular French government, it has been on permanent loan to the Catholic Church.
#Paris| #NotreDameCathedral — crowds gather all around Île Saint-Louis tonight paying respects through song. This was Pont de la Tournelle at 1am w/ the Cathedral in the background. Firefighters continuing to pour tons of water into the central structure from elevated platforms. pic.twitter.com/0b0UpHbx9t
— Mikey Kay (@MikeyKayNYC) April 15, 2019