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18 July 2020 18:38

St. Peter's and St. Paul's Cathedral Nantes France Nantes Cathedral

Image copyright EPA More than 100 firefighters have managed to bring a blaze at a cathedral in the French city of Nantes under control. Stained glass windows and the grand organ at Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral were damaged in the fire, which prosecutors believe was started deliberately. Fortunately, however, the cathedral's roof was not affected. Image copyright AFP The cathedral dates back to the 15th Century. Locals gathered at the scene, where flames could be seen from outside.

French President Emmanuelle Macron tweeted his support for the firefighters who were "taking all the risks to save the Gothic jewel". The cathedral has been damaged by fire before, after being struck by bombing in World War Two. Another fire, in 1972, damaged much of its roof. Image copyright Reuters All photos subject to copyright. A fire that broke out in a cathedral in the western French city of Nantes blew out stained-glass windows and destroyed the grand organ in the 15th-century building, officials said. A local prosecutor said three fires were started at the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral and authorities were treating the incident as a criminal act.

An investigation has been opened. Firefighters brought the blaze under control after several hours, but smoke was still coming out of the Gothic structure late on Saturday morning. The blaze comes just over a year after a massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris destroyed its roof and main spire. "After Notre Dame, the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral is in flames. Support to the firemen who are taking all the risks to save the Gothic jewel," the French president, Emmanuel Macron, tweeted from Brussels where he was attending an EU summit.

The local fire chief, Laurent Ferlay, said 104 firefighters were at the site to ensure the blaze was under control. He said the fire broke out behind the grand organ. The damage was not as bad as initially feared. "We are not in a Notre Dame scenario. The roof has not been touched," Ferlay said.

The French prime minister, Jean Castex, as well as the culture and interior ministers were due to visit the scene later in the day. "I want to know what happened, even if it's very early," Castex said. Jean-Yves Burban, who runs a newsagent facing the cathedral, said he had opened his business and heard a bang at around 7.30am. He went outside to see huge flames coming from the building. "I am shook up because I've been here eight years and I see the cathedral every morning and evening," he said. "It's our cathedral and I've got tears in my eyes." It was not the first time fire has damaged the cathedral. It was partly destroyed during the second world war in 1944, and in 1972 a fire ravaged its wooden roof. It was replaced 13 years later with a concrete structure. "The fire of 1972 is in our minds, but at this stage the situation is not comparable," said the city mayor, Johanna Rolland. In 2015 a fire that appeared to have been caused by renovation work destroyed most of the roof of another church in Nantes, the Basilica of St Donatian and St Rogatian. A large blaze inside one of France's historic cathedrals is suspected to be arson, officials said. The fire at Nantes' 15th-Century gothic cathedral shattered stained glass windows and sent black smoke spewing from between its towers. Around a hundred firefighters battled the blaze, with huge flames licking the inside of the cathedral's facade. The fire is thought to have broken out early on Saturday morning, and French police said they were helping with the effort to quell the flames. Video showed smoke coming out of the front of the structure, with the stained glass window, between the two huge towers, blown out. Advertisement Cecil Renaud, who works in a bakery opposite the cathedral of St Pierre and St Paul, told BFM TV: "It was a huge shock. It's extremely sad." The blaze, which centred on "the great organ", was brought under control after several hours. The roof is not thought to be affected. Prosecutor Pierre Sennes told reporters three fires had been started at the site and authorities are treating the incident as a criminal act. French officials launched an arson inquiry. The cathedral was partly destroyed during World War Two after Allied bombings in 1944. Image: Firefighters have warned people to avoid the area Image: The fire has been brought under control And in 1972, fire ravaged the roof, which was rebuilt 13 years later. "It is a part of our history, a part of our heritage," the city's mayor, Johanna Rolland, told reporters. "We all have these images in mind, this story in our hearts, but at this stage the situation does not seem to be comparable to that of 1972." Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin were due to visit on Saturday afternoon The fire comes just over a year after an enormous blaze destroyed the roof and main spire of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. (CNN) An arson investigation has been launched into a fire that broke out in a cathedral in the western French city of Nantes on Saturday. The city's prosecutor Pierre Sennes said: "We've observed this morning that the fire started in three spots. This observation leads us to open an investigation for arson, an investigation to regional judicial police. "The next phase will be working into the investigation, consultations, we will take a lot of statements. We will also verify the technical installations, the fire prevention installations, and again, we are waiting for this expert who could give us interesting elements." Fire Chief Laurent Ferlay told a press briefing in front of the cathedral that the blaze was not as big as the one that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in April 2019, and the damage is not as bad. "I can confirm that we are not in the Notre Dame of Paris situation, rooftop is not affected," Ferlay told CNN affiliate BFM on Saturday. Read More