Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Rouen cathedral fire brought under control in Normandy

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A fire in the spire of Rouen’s gothic cathedral has been brought under control, authorities in the Normandy city have said.

Initial television images, reminiscent of the fire at Notre Dame in Paris in 2019, showed a dark plume of smoke rising from the spire and people in the streets below looking up in horror.

In later images, smoke could still be seen through a gap in the white cover encircling the scaffolding around the spire, but it was no longer rising in a dark column. After about 90 minutes firefighters said the blaze had been contained.

Stephane Gouezec of the Seine-Maritime firefighters said the source of the fire had been located and that crews were working to ensure there were no remaining “hot spots.” He told reporters the risk of the flames spreading was low because the fire was in an area where most of the structures were metal.

He said construction workers had been the first to notice the fire and had alerted the authorities.

A jewel of French medieval gothic architecture, the cathedral dates to the 12th century and was repeatedly painted by the impressionist artist Claude Monet in the 19th century, lifting its worldwide fame.

Fire in the wooden frame of the roof caused devastating damage to the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral in 2019, and repairs are only now nearing completion.

Fire also engulfed Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange, one of the Danish capital’s most historic landmarks in April, toppling its spire. Large parts of the outer walls also later collapsed.

The Rouen cathedral spire had been surrounded by scaffolding and a white cover for several weeks.

The local prefecture, which exercises authority in the region, said the cathedral had been evacuated and emergency services were on the scene. A security cordon was in place around the building. The prefecture said there were no reports of casualties and the extent of the damage was unclear.

Rouen’s mayor, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, posted on X: “The beginning of a fire is underway on the spire of the cathedral of Rouen. The origin is unknown at this stage. All public resources are mobilised.”

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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