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France: Spire of Rouen Cathedral in flames

Published July 11, 2024last updated July 11, 2024

Painted several times by Claude Monet, the spire of the cathedral in Rouen, France, has caught fire. Firefighters managed to put out the blaze without any major damage to the building.

Smoke rises out of the spire of the Rouen Cathedral
The fire in a spire of the Rouen Cathedral did not initially seem as devastating as a 2019 blaze at Notre Dame in Paris Image: Patrick Streiff/AFP/dpa/picture alliance

The spire of the cathedral in the northern French city of Rouen caught fire on Thursday, but firefighters managed to put out the blaze at the famed landmark after a couple of hours.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol posted an image of smoke rising from the cathedral on X, formerly Twitter, adding that the cause of the blaze was "unknown at this stage."

Workers discovered the fire at a height of around 120 metres at midday and raised the alarm.

Nearly a 100 firefighters responded and reached the tower using a giant ladder.

Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun told broadcaster BFMTV that welding work may have been the cause of the fire.

Firefighters put out blaze at France's Rouen Cathedral

Widely recognized cathedral 

"The interior was saved, above all the works of art," said Culture Minister Rachida Dati, who visited the scene at the request of President Emmanuel Macron.

"We have narrowly avoided another catastrophe," she said.

The cathedral was painted several times by French impressionist Claude Monet in the late 19th century.

Bishop Lebrun said workers who had been on site for the spire's renovations were safe. 

The earlier scenes were reminiscent of the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 2019, which also started during renovation works.

sms/kb (Reuters, AP)