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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 and key events following it.

Monday April 15, 5.50pm BST (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.

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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 Credit: 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.

12am – Ms Hidalgo confirms on Twitter that the relic of the crown of thorns and a number of priceless artefacts were taken from the cathedral to Paris City Hall for safekeeping.

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8am – The Paris Fire Service, Pompiers de Paris, said on Twitter that Notre Dame’s structure and artworks had been saved, with two police officers and one firefighter slightly wounded.

8.45am – Paris firefighters confirm that the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral has been fully extinguished.

9am – French billionaire Francois Pinault said he is pledging to donate 100 million euro (£86 million) to the rebuild as the cathedral is a “symbol of spirituality and our common humanity”.

The businessman said he expects others to follow suit as “it has to be a collective endeavour” to renovate the Parisian landmark.

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani invited MEPs, meeting in Strasbourg, to contribute their day's salary to help finance the cathedral's reconstruction.

10am – French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault said he is pledging to donate 100 million euro (£86 million) to rebuild Notre Dame as the cathedral is a "symbol of spirituality and our common humanity".

Paris' deputy mayor said Notre Dame's organ, one of the biggest and most famous in the world, remains intact after the fire. Mr Gregoire also described "enormous relief" at the salvaging of pieces such as the purported Crown of Christ.

10.30am - Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the fire at Notre Dame was "very, very sad". He is joined by other voices through the day including, Theresa May, Poland's President Andrzej Duda and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Damage caused by the fire could takes years to repair, experts warn. Credit: AP

11am - In a message to the President of France, the Queen said: "Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral. "I extend my sincere admiration to the emergency services who have risked their lives to try to save this important national monument.

"My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time."

The Prince of Wales later said he and the Duchess of Cornwall were "utterly heartbroken" at the fire and described the events as a "shattering tragedy, the unbearable pain of which we all share".

1pm - The chief architect of Cologne Cathedral says it could take decades to repair the damage caused to Notre Dame by a massive fire. Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in the German city, told broadcaster RTL that "it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired".

Cologne Cathedral was heavily damaged during the Second World War and work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.

The director of Unesco later added expert work must be carried out immediately to protect Notre Dame Cathedral's remaining structure.

A man prays in front of the cathedral in the aftermath of the fire Credit: AP

3pm - French President Emmanuel Macron announces he will hold a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday fully dedicated to the aftermath of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral will remain closed for three years.

The French presidency says a morning session will be followed by one in the afternoon focusing on the national fundraising campaign and the reconstruction work.

Mr Macron is to speak by phone with Pope Francis.

4pm - Prime Minister Theresa May offers the UK's solidarity and support following yesterday's fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Bells will be rung at churches and cathedrals across England in solidarity with France following the devastating fire at Notre Dame, she said.

Mrs May said: "Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world - a symbol of France and the French people, and cherished across the globe.

"The images of destruction we saw last night were truly heart-rending.

"To underline our solidarity with France and her people, the bells at Westminster Abbey will toll at 5:43pm this evening to mark the moment the fire began yesterday.

"And later this week, on Maundy Thursday, bells will ring at cathedrals and churches across England."

5.43pm - 24 hours on from the start of the fire, the bells ring out at Westminster Abbey in a show of solidarity for its Parisian counterpart.