Fire hits renovated Paris Ritz weeks before reopening

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Historic Ritz Hotel in Paris Damaged by Rooftop Fire

Flames ripped through the top floor of the luxury Ritz Paris hotel on Tuesday, as around 60 firefighters battled to put out a fire which threatened the work of a 3-1/2 year restoration program just weeks ahead of a planned re-opening.

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Some 150 workers were evacuated from the site in the chic Place Vendome square in central Paris at around 0500 GMT (12.00 a.m. ET), where about 15 fire trucks were on the scene, Paris fire service spokesman Captain Yvon Bot said on French television.

See photos from the scene in Paris:

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Fire hits renovated Paris Ritz weeks before reopening
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Fire hits renovated Paris Ritz weeks before reopening
A firefighter wipes his face as a fire engulfed the top floor of Parisâ Ritz Carlton hotel Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 in Paris. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
A French firefighter stands atop a fire ladder as a fire engulfed the top floor of Parisâ Ritz Carlton hotel, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 in Paris. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Firefighters work on extinguishing a fire at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on January 19, 2016. A major fire broke out at the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which is closed for renovations, the fire service said. The blaze is on the 'top floor of the building and the roof', a fire service spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
French firefighters stand by their truck as a fire engulfed the top floor of Parisâ Ritz Carlton hotel, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 in Paris. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Firefighters work on extinguishing a fire at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on January 19, 2016. A major fire broke out at the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which is closed for renovations, the fire service said. The blaze is on the 'top floor of the building and the roof', a fire service spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters work on extinguishing a fire at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on January 19, 2016. A major fire broke out at the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which is closed for renovations, the fire service said. The blaze is on the 'top floor of the building and the roof', a fire service spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters take a break outside the Ritz Hotel after a fire erupted at the landmark hotel in Paris on January 19, 2016. A major fire broke out at the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which is closed for renovations, the fire service said. The blaze is on the 'top floor of the building and the roof', a fire service spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
French firefighters secure the area as a fire engulfed the top floor of Parisâ Ritz Carlton hotel, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 in Paris. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
A French firefighter stands atop a fire ladder as a fire engulfed the top floor of Parisâ Ritz Carlton hotel, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 in Paris. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Firefighters work on extinguishing a fire at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on January 19, 2016. A major fire broke out at the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which is closed for renovations, the fire service said. The blaze is on the 'top floor of the building and the roof', a fire service spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
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The cause of the fire, which struck on the seventh floor of the building and spread through the attic to the roof, was so far unknown, the official said.

By mid-morning, the fire had been brought under control, he told Reuters.

"There is no longer any risk of it spreading, but the operation will still take a very long time," he said. The firemen had great difficulty accessing the part of the building affected, he said.

The Ritz had no comment as the incident was ongoing. The hotel's website still indicated on Tuesday it was accepting reservations again from March 2016.

The former home of fashion designer Coco Chanel and author Marcel Proust, and a favorite drinking hole of American writer Ernest Hemingway, the hotel was last renovated over a decade beginning in 1979 after its purchase by tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed.

The latest work to restore the Ritz, which opened in 1898 and was the first Paris hotel to boast electricity on all floors and bathrooms that were inside rooms, began in August 2012 and is being overseen by interior architect Thierry W. Despont.

It includes the building of a "discreet tunnel" that will enable the rich and famous to come and go in privacy. It was at the Ritz that Diana, Princess of Wales, spent her last night in 1997 before the car crash that killed her.

Watch more coverage:

Fire Engulfs Famed Ritz Hotel in Paris

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