Pierre Sennès, the Nantes prosecutor, said on Sunday that the volunteer had been charged with arson and could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros, or about 175,000 dollars.
“We determined that the man was in the cathedral district on the morning of the fire,” Sennès said, according to the Ouest-France newspaper. “We noticed, in two or three places where the fire broke out, disturbing elements which could corroborate a criminal act”, he added, noting that a “flammable product” had been found in the building. .
The fire at Nantes Cathedral came just over a year after a fire ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris, bringing the Paris monument to the brink of collapse and raising questions about security risks historic churches across the country.
Firefighters were able to control the flames in Nantes within hours, but the fire destroyed a 17th-century organ. Stained glass windows that contained 16th century glass remains and an 1835 painting by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin representing the first bishop of Nantes have also been lost.