French officials launch arson investigation after historic Nantes cathedral burned down

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French authorities launched an investigation into the arson attack on Saturday after a fire broke out in the Gothic cathedral in the city of Nantes, in western France, destroying its famous organ, smashing stained glass and sending black smoke between its towers.Locals and tourists alike watched in dismay and rescuers cordoned off the area around Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul cathedral in the historic center of this city on the Loire.

A city hall official said the fire broke out inside the 15th-century cathedral on Saturday morning and the cause was unclear. The official is not allowed to be publicly appointed. No injuries were reported.

The local fire department said the roof was not affected by the fire and was “under control”.

They ruled out comparisons with Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, whose lead roof and spire burned down in April 2019. For many, the fire in Nantes will bring back memories of this devastating fire that threatened to overthrow the medieval monument .

“After Notre-Dame, the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, in the heart of Nantes, is in flames. Support our firefighters who take all the risks to save this Gothic jewel of the city, ”French President Emmanuel Macron said. wrote on Twitter.

The fire shattered stained glass windows, sending black smoke emanating from the 15th-century church – which also suffered a serious fire in 1972. (Romain Boulanger / The Associated Press)

Saturday’s fire broke the main stained glass windows between the two towers of the cathedral, which also suffered a serious fire in 1972.

“It’s a part of our history, a part of our heritage,” Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland told journalists. “We all have these images in mind, this story in our hearts, but at this point the situation does not seem like it was in 1972.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin will be among the officials who will travel to Nantes on Saturday afternoon.

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