Rouen cathedral evacuated after spire blaze

Image caption, Smoke was seen billowing out from beneath a covering surrounding the spire
11 July 2024, 12:17 BST

Updated 57 minutes ago

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 and those working on the spire at the time are safe, according to local authorities.

“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.

Plastic parts of the construction site caught fire, Mr Gouezec said. The metal spire itself did not appear to be damaged.

Image caption, The cast iron spire has been undergoing restoration work, and is shrouded in scaffolding.

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.

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