Trump laments Notre Dame fire: 'It's a terrible scene'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE on Monday lamented a blaze that had engulfed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as he arrived in Minnesota for a Tax Day event.

The president informed attendees at a roundtable event in Burnsville, Minn., that the world-famous structure appeared to be burning to the ground before launching into prepared remarks about Republican tax policy.

"It’s one of the great treasures of the world," Trump said of the cathedral. "Probably, if you think about it … it might be greater than almost any museum in the world. And it’s burning very badly. It looks like it’s burning to the ground."


His remarks elicited gasps and groans from those in attendance.

"So that puts a damper on what we’re about to say, to be honest, because that is beyond countries, that’s beyond anything," Trump continued. "That is a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives.

"That’s a truly great cathedral. I’ve been there and I’ve seen it, and there’s no cathedral — I think I can probably say there’s no cathedral in the world like it. It’s a terrible scene."

Trump said he has been in communication with France amid the fire. A spokeswoman for Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump hosts annual White House Egg Roll with record 74,000 eggs Trump plugs border wall in exchange with young Easter egg roll attendee The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump team fights back over Dem subpoena MORE said the first lady was briefed on the blaze prior to speaking with service members in North Carolina.

A fire broke out Monday at the Notre Dame cathedral, prompting lament from around the world. Tourists flooded the streets of Paris to watch as smoke billowed from the structure.

A spokesman for the cathedral told The Associated Press that the entire wooden interior of the building is on fire and will likely be destroyed, according to multiple outlets.

As news reports of the fire first emerged, Trump suggested via Twitter from Air Force One that "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"

The cathedral, which was built in the 13th century, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris. It attracts more than 10 million visitors a year.

Authorities have said the fire may have been caused as crews worked on renovations for the structure.