The roaring blaze burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral this evening, engulfing the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watching from the other side of the River Seine gasped as the spire folded over onto itself and fell into the inferno. The fire is still burning strongly with officials warning it might be impossible to save the cathedral, built in 1160.
Firefighters say all efforts are now being made to prevent the collapse of the northern tower of the cathedral.
No cause has been confimed for the blaze, but renovation work had been underway.
At least one firefighter has been hurt while fighting the blaze.
This is a developing story, please see below for timed updates.
10.15pm update – Barack Obama sends message to France
Former US president Barack Obama has expressed his sorrow over the fire.
He said on Twitter: “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief.
“It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”
His successor Donald Trump earlier Tweeted that planes should be used to drop water on Notre Dame, something the French Interior Ministry quickly said would destroy the building.
9.50pm – fireman ‘seriously injured’ in blaze
A fireman has been seriously hurt fighting the blaze, an official has confirmed.
9.30pm – firefighters warn entire cathedral may be lost
Firefighters are working desperately to save the artwork at the back of the cathedral, Reuters news agency is reporting.
They said the northern tower may also collapse, with efforts diverted to prevent the devastating loss.
And they warned they are “not sure” if they can stop the fire spreading to the second tower.
This is a breaking story, more to follow…