Another French cathedral likely victim of arson

A weekend fire in a French cathedral may have been started deliberately.

A 39-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fire at Nantes historic St Peter and St Paul cathedral.

Nantes’ public prosecutor, Pierre Sennès, says the fire appears to have started from three different spots in the cathedral: one at the level of the organ, and one on each side of the nave.

Sennès says the national police are involved in the investigation at the french cathedral and a fire expert was travelling to Nantes.

“When we arrive at a place where a fire has taken place, when you see three separate fire outbreaks, it’s a question of common sense, you open an investigation,” he explains.

Tourists and residents watched in horror as firefighters battled the blaze at the cathedral, which has been described as a ‘Gothic Jewel’.

The fire began in the early morning, with massive flames visible from outside the building. More than 100 firefighters brought it under control after several hours.

Fire Chief Laurent Ferlay says the damage from the weekend fire was contained.

Comparing the Nantes cathedral fire with last year’s Notre Dame fire, Ferlay says it was “not a Notre-Dame scenario.”

Ferlay says the damage is concentrated on the organ, “which appears to be completely destroyed. The platform it is situated on is very unstable and risks collapsing.”

The Diocese of Nantes says there is also significant damage to the cathedral’s 16th century rose window.

The fire “plunges the Christians of Loire Atlantique into a great sadness,” the Diocese says.

“For them, the cathedral, an architectural masterpiece, is above all the mother church of the diocese.”

“It is the place of gatherings where the important events of its history are lived.”

The rector of the cathedral Fr. Hubert Champenois and the diocesan administrator Fr. François Renaud are calling on the Catholics of the diocese to unite in prayer and welcomed the help of firefighters, police, and civil society.

French president Emmanuel Macron on Saturday tweeted his support for the firefighters fighting the blaze.

“After Notre-Dame, the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, in the heart of Nantes, is in flames. Support to our firefighters who take all risks to save this Gothic gem of the city of the Dukes,” he wrote.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1434 on the site of a Romanesque cathedral and took 457 years until it was finished in 1891.



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