As a massive investigation into the cause of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral begins, Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz said he believes the blaze was an accident.
Heitz told The New York Times on Tuesday that "it will be a long and complex investigation," adding that so far, the fire appears to have been an accident. "Nothing at this stage suggests a voluntary act."
The first fire alarm was triggered at 6:20 p.m., Heitz said. Checks were carried out but no fire was found. A second alarm went off at 6:43 p.m., and a fire was discovered in the wooden framework of the attic.
Reuters reported on Monday that the fire may be linked to renovations that were underway on the crumbling building.
Fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral was started by accident and is related to ongoing work, according to France 2, citing police. Either way it is terrible and a hideous blow to the symbolic heart of the city— Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) April 15, 2019
Parisian officials confirmed that the fire was put out after a "major operation" to save the 850-year-old Gothic building.
Last year, the Catholic Church in France appealed for funds to save the building, which was crumbling. Some sections of the cathedral, which marks the very center of Paris, were under scaffolding. Bronze statues were removed last week.
A spokesman for the cathedral said the whole structure was "burning."
"There will be nothing left," he told the BBC.
"Everything is collapsing," a police officer near the scene told Reuters as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called it a "terrible fire" and encouraged people at the scene to stay back.
Videos show massive amounts of smoke billowing from the cathedral and flames licking the upper part of it, including its two bell towers. One video captured the exact moment the spire fell; cries of devastation from the crowd watching the events unfold could be heard.
BREAKING: The Notre Dame Cathedral's spire has fallen pic.twitter.com/ya1bNYvgNX— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 15, 2019
President Emmanuel Macron canceled an address to the nation that he was scheduled to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said he was set to go to the scene of the blaze.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th Century, features in Victor Hugo's classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It attracts millions of tourists every year, with The Telegraph reporting that it is France's most-visited landmark.