A little more than a year after flames ravaged the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a fire ripped through a second French cathedral on Saturday.
The blaze at Nantes Cathedral, unlike that at Notre Dame, is being considered an arson, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.
“The investigation is opened on the basis of the findings, after the discovery of three outbreaks of fire spaced apart from each other,” Sennes said, according to The Washington Post.
“It’s not a coincidence. It’s even a signature,” he said.
“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,” he said, according to CNN.
Laurent Ferlay, director-general of the Nantes fire department, said the damage is not at the scale of the Paris disaster.
“I can confirm that we are not in the Notre Dame of Paris situation, [the] rooftop is not affected,” Ferlay told CNN.
“The damage is concentrated on the large organ, which seems to be completely destroyed. The platform on which it’s located is very unstable and threatens to collapse,” he said, according to The Post.
In an interview with Reuters, Jean-Yves Burban, who runs a newsstand near the cathedral, said he was opening his shop at about 7:30 a.m. when he heard a bang. Then he saw flames pouring from the building.
“I am shook up because I’ve been here eight years and I see the cathedral every morning and evening,” he told the news agency. “It’s our cathedral and I’ve got tears in my eyes.”
More than 100 firefighters brought the fire in the massive Gothic structure under control after several hours, BBC reported.
Images of the blaze filled Twitter.
“I went outside and saw the cathedral in flames”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 18, 2020
The pattern continues…another historic Church in France, the Cathedral of Sts
Peter and Paul in Nantes has been torched. This must stop! https://t.co/t4ukvByj1j
— Raymond Arroyo (@RaymondArroyo) July 18, 2020
Earlier, Nantes Cathedral was on fire. Thankfully they were able to put out the fire.
It is being treated as a criminal act.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 18, 2020
According to The New York Times, Nantes Mayor Johanna Rolland said the damage was not as bad as might have been feared.
“The damages are real, but they are localized,” she told the newspaper, calling the day “a sad day for Nantes and its people.”
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the cathedral would be rebuilt “as quickly as possible and in which the state will play its full part.”
According to The New York Times, construction of Nantes’ Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul was finally completed in 1891 after four centuries of intermittent work. A 1972 fire destroyed much of its wooden framework, which was replaced at the time with concrete.
The restoration at Notre Dame, more than a year after the April 2019 fire, has barely begun. Workers are currently removing 40,000 pieces of twisted scaffolding that supported the cathedral’s stones.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.