Huge fire underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A "significant fire" erupted in the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris, a. 19.00 local time, according to the national police. Smoke could be seen from the top of the medieval cathedral, while flames sprang up next to its two bell towers.

French firefighters said they weren't sure if the fire could be stopped, AFP said. Both the cathedral spire and the roof have now collapsed. The films of the scene showed flames inside one of the two towers of the building.

NBC journalist Nancy Ing said "the gargoyles are falling off the roof".

No damage was reported at this stage, according to French junior interior minister Laurent Nunez. The Paris prosecutor opened an official investigation to determine the cause.

Nicolas Marang, 47, a consultant and resident of Paris for 27 years, who learned and took a video of the spire of Notre Dame, told Euronews that the flame was "a real nightmare".

"I keep thinking, the whole culture, it's so delicate and now it's over, it's completely burned," he said.

"People started photographing, some people were crying, it was like being thrown out," he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrived on the scene with the prosecutor. A major operation is underway, the fire department said, while a spokesman for the town said on Twitter that the area has been cleaned up.

"A terrible fire is coming to the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris," said Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Twitter. "Firefighters are trying to control the flames ... I urge everyone to respect the security revolution."