Monday, July 15, 2024

Rouen cathedral evacuated after spire blaze

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The spire of a famous Gothic cathedral in the French city of Rouen caught fire, prompting an evacuation, local officials say.

Images posted on X by the prefecture show black smoke billowing from a canopy and scaffolding at the top of the building, which is about 150m (495ft) tall.

The blaze has now been contained, according to officials.

The fire’s “origin is unknown at this point”, mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said, adding that “all public resources” had been mobilised in response.

Around 70 firefighters and 40 fire engines were part of the efforts to tackle the blaze, fire brigade chief Stephane Gouezec told local media.

The Our Lady of the Assumption cathedral has been evacuated and a security perimeter is in place, the prefecture said.

There are no reports of casualties, according to local authorities, and the extent of the damage to the building is unknown.

“Fire broke out at the tip of the spire, which isn’t made of wood, but rather metal,” the prefecture of the Seine-Maritime department told AFP news agency.

Rouen cathedral, featured in several 19th Century artworks by impressionist artist Claude Monet, is undergoing extensive restoration.

It was constructed over several centuries, with parts of the building dating back more than 900 years to the 12th Century, according to its official website. Between 1876 and 1880, it was the tallest building in the world.

In 2019, a blaze in the wooden roof frame caused massive damage to the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The landmark building in France’s capital is due to reopen officially in December, after years of repairs.

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