Nantes' large 19th-century church of Saint-Donatien caught on fire after a Monday mass, French media reports. Despite firefighters' efforts, the flames quickly reduced the rooftop of the historic structure to a shell
The fire began immediately after morning mass on Monday, causing the worshipers to be evacuated, Reverend Benoit Bertrand of the Nantes diocese told BFM television.
"I see flames still escaping," Bertrand said.
Valuable pictures and other church art inside the building was also saved, according to the media reports on Monday.
However, the fire quickly engulfed and destroyed the rooftop of the large basilica, despite 75 firefighters and an aircraft combating the flames.
"The inquiry will determine with certainty, but the work on the roof seems to have been the cause," the city's mayor Johanna Rolland said.
The Saint-Donatien-und-Saint-Rogatien church is one the two basilicas in the western French city of Nantes, and it was built in the late 19th century.
dj/jil (KNA, AP, Reuters)