Paris : 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. He said no one was staying in the five-star hotel and there were no casualties but a “large” part of the building was affected.

 A column of smoke could be seen rising above Paris from the hotel’s location in the Place Vendome, in the heart of the city’s luxury district near the Opera Garnier.

  Some 60 firefighters and around 15 fire engines were dispatched to the blaze after the alert was raised at 6:00 am (0500 GMT).

  “Our concern is to stop the fire spreading to the rest of the floor and roof,” the spokesman said. Police reported a “major fire” on their Twitter account and advised motorists to avoid the area.   The four-storey classically styled hotel, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, was due to reopen late this year after a three-year closure for top-to-bottom renovations.

  The hotel of choice of Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway, where a small bar is named after him, the Ritz is also infamous as the place where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dined before their fatal car crash in 1997, reports AFP.

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