The spire on top of the 12-century church collapsed and much of the roof appeared destroyed in photos.
Heavy clouds of smoke filled the skies above the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as a fire broke out in the historic landmark Monday.
The fire erupted just before 7 p.m. local time and continued to burn for hours. The spire on top of the 12-century church collapsed and much of the roof appeared destroyed in photos. By early Tuesday local time, officials said the fire was under control and partially extinguished, with residual fires still to be put out.
One official described the damage as "colossal." At one point during the fire, another said that "everything is burning" and "nothing will remain."
Though the flames spread to one of the cathedral's iconic towers, officials told reporters that both towers as well as the main structure of the cathedral had been saved from destruction.
Notre Dame houses countless artifacts and relics, and it was not immediately clear if specific items were damaged. The mayor of Paris thanked emergency workers and volunteers for helping to try to save some of the pieces.
While it is not immediately clear how the medieval cathedral caught fire, authorities believe it may have been related to the ongoing renovations at the church.
Parisians knelt in the street in sorrow, with many praying and singing songs like "Ave Maria."
Tourists had reportedly still been in the building as the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire. However, no deaths or injuries have been reported.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, located in Paris' trendy fourth arrondissement, was constructed in 1163. It was famously the setting of Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." About 12 million people from around the world visit the cathedral annually, with an influx of visitors every year during Holy Week, the week before Easter. The high Christian holiday is on April 21 this year.