How the Notre Dame Cathedral fire unfolded

A huge fire has destroyed parts of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Here is how the devastating blaze unfolded.

Monday April 15, 5.50pm (6.50pm local time) – Reports begin to emerge of smoke coming from the building. The last visitors of the day are evacuated and the Paris Fire Brigade begin to fight flames emerging from the cathedral’s roof.

7.05pm – Part of the spire at Notre Dame collapses amid the raging fire.

7.10pm – A church spokesman tells French media that all of Notre Dame Cathedral’s frame is burning after the spire collapsed.

7.30pm – First responders work to try to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored in the cathedral. A spokesman says the entire wooden interior of the Notre Dame is burning and is likely to be destroyed.

8.20pm – French president Emmanuel Macron arrives at the scene of the fire to meet with police officials.

8.30pm – The fire that destroyed the spire spreads to one of the church’s landmark rectangular towers. Paris police say firefighters have moved inside the cathedral.

8.50pm– An official at France’s Interior Ministry warns firefighters may not be able to save Notre Dame.

9.05pm – The fire chief in Paris says it is unclear if city firefighters will be able to keep the blaze from spreading and causing more destruction. “If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be,” Jean-Claude Gallet says.

9.30pm – 400 firefighters are at the scene of the fire. Laurent Nunez, from France’s Interior Ministry, says the fire is not limited to a certain area and may continue to expand. The cause of fire remains unknown.

9.40pm – Parisians gather to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame.

10pm – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says firefighters are optimistic they can salvage Notre Dame’s main towers from flames. People who live nearby have been evacuated in case of a collapse.

The Paris fire chief says the structure has been saved and the fire was stopped from spreading to the northern belfry.

Firefighters tackle the blaze (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)">
Firefighters tackle the blaze (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

10.20pm – Paris prosecutors say preliminary investigations indicate the fire was started accidentally. They have ruled out arson for now and say police will conduct an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire”.

Fire commander Jean-Claude Gallet confirms one firefighter was injured while tackling the blaze and says two-thirds of Notre Dame’s roofing “has been ravaged”. Fire crews will keep working overnight to cool down the structure.

10.30pm – Mr Macron calls the blaze a “terrible tragedy” and says a fund will be launched to raise money for repairs.

- Press Association

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