Arson Suspected After Fire Guts Nantes Cathedral, France

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The French authorities have launched an arson investigation after a major fire engulfed the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in Nantes.

The Roman Catholic cathedral, also known as Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul or simply Nantes Cathedral, is an epoch-spanning structure begun in the 1434 and completed in 1891, described as the “Gothic jewel of the city of the Dukes” by French president Emmanuel Macron.

Regional fire chief General Laurent Ferlay reported that the inferno was contained by French firemen after a two-hour struggle, and that the damage does not appear to be as extensive as in Notre-Dame after a fire ripped through the Parisian cathedral in 2019.

Interior fixtures including the cathedral’s great organ and historic stained glass windows have been lost, however, and the authorities are keen to pinpoint the cause of the blaze — with a possible arson attack the current focus of their investigations, according to French media.

It is believed that three fires may have been started in the iconic building, “one at the level of the great organ and two fire starts to the left and to the right of the nave”, according to fire brigade officials quoted by public service broadcasting network France Bleu.

French National Assembly member Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who leads the Gaullist-leaning national populist party Debout la France (France Arise), broadcast a short address on social media urging the French people to “wake up before it’s too late” in response to the blaze.

This story is developing…

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