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‘Violent blaze’ at 15th-century cathedral in France being investigated as arson

2020-07-25

A fire that broke out at a 15th-century cathedral in western France is being investigated as a crime, local authorities said.

Emergency services were alerted about a blaze that began inside The Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul in Nantes on Saturday shortly before 8 a.m., local time, according to Euro News.

“An arson investigation has been opened, there are no conclusions to be drawn now because we have a lot of investigations to make which could introduce new elements,” Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes told the Agence France-Presse.

The head of the local fire service, Laurent Ferlay, told reporters that 104 firefighters were deployed to the area. Around 10 a.m., Ferlay said that the fire had been contained.

The “violent blaze” erupted “by the organ located behind the rose window”, he said, adding that the roof had not been affected.

“The scenario is not comparable to Notre Dame,” Ferlay said, referring to last year’s devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which destroyed its roof and 305-feet-high spire.

Authorities say that Saturday’s blaze was limited to a 400-year-old pipe organ, which “seems to be completely destroyed.”

Smoke was still coming out of the building late on Saturday morning, according to The Guardian.

French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to express his sentiments.

“After Notre Dame, the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral is in flames. Support to the firefighters who are taking all the risks to save the Gothic jewel,” he tweeted Saturday morning.

The Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul in Nantes, located some 240 miles southwest of Paris, is a Gothic-style building that survived the French Revolution and World War II bombings.

It also withstood a major fire in 1972 that destroyed its wooden roof.

“The fire of 1972 is in our minds, but at this stage the situation is not comparable,” Nantes mayor, Johanna Rolland, said.