The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is burning

Renovations had been underway at the cathedral

The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky as stunned Parisians and tourists watched in horror.

A spokesman said the blaze was likely to bring the entire wooden frame of the cathedral down, and the vault of the edifice could be threatened too.

Notre-Dame cathedral's spire has collapsed in a "terrible" fire and the massive blaze has now spread to one of its famous rectangular towers.

Reports are circulating that French police say the fire was an accident caused by ongoing renovations to the centuries-old cathedral.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a Twitter message that firefighters are still trying to limit the fire and urged Paris citizens to respect the security perimeter set up around the cathedral.

Speaking in Minnesota Monday, Trump said the cathedral was "burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn".

The cathedral was evacuated when the fire alarm was activated around 6.30pm, according to André Finot, a spokesman for Notre Dame. President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was distressed. France's President Emmanuel Macron will be visiting the site later, according to a government spokesperson.

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No injured have been reported so far, authorities are still examining the cause of the fire, said junior interior minister Nunez.

Flames were seen coming from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on the afternoon of April 15, 2019. He suggested that France should get some "flying water tankers" to put out the blaze.

U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted about the fire engulfing Paris' iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo's classic novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame".

On Twitter, Hidalgo said: "A awful fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris". Last year, France's Catholic Church pleaded for funds to save the French landmark, which was starting to crumble.

Notre Dame attracts about 13 million visitors each year.

The French Gothic-style cathedral is located on an island in the center of Paris called the Île de la Cité, which is surrounded by the River Seine.

Firefighters have been pictured attempting to salvage works of art from the cathedral and take them to safety.

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