People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral [Thibault Camus/AP]

Firefighters in Paris are battling to put out a huge blaze that has engulfed the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, a centuries-old building in the heart of the French capital.

Footage showed flames coming out of the Gothic cathedral early on Monday evening, with smoke billowing from the roof as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in horror.

The structure’s soaring spire later collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the 12th-century landmark was burning and likely to be destroyed.

The fire also spread to one of the iconic rectangular towers.

“A terrible fire is under way at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said

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