Fire breaks out in spire of French cathedral

A fire broke out in the spire of the cathedral in the French city of Rouen on Thursday morning.

The blaze erupted at the top of the spire of the gothic Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Rouen, in the northern region of Normandy.

Images posted on X by Normandy’s prefecture, or regional administration, show smoke billowing from the top of the building, which is currently undergoing restoration works and is considered a significant piece of French medieval architecture.

The prefecture confirmed on X that the cathedral was evacuated following the outbreak of the flames and that emergency services were working at the scene. In total, 70 firefighters and 40 vehicles were deployed to the site, while additional firefighting forces from the neighboring region of Oise were also mobilized.

The prefecture later announced that the fire had been put out.

Stéphane Gouezec, an official from the local fire department, said that “an inventory is being made of works that could be affected” by the water used to contain the blaze. “We may have to take some works to safety,” he added.

Patrick Waeselynck, the owner of a nearby cafe, described the moment he noticed the fire.

“First sunny day, there’s a big outside seating area, people are sitting down, we’re going over to take the order and we hear, ‘Fire!,’” he told French broadcaster BFMTV.

“I turn around and I see the cathedral spire, the tarpaulin that was protecting the restoration work, which was burning, big flames, black smoke.”

The construction of Rouen cathedral dates from the 12th century and it was built and rebuilt over a period of 800 years. It is famed for its three towers, each built in a different style, and was immortalized in a series of paintings by French impressionist Claude Monet in the 19th century.

This blaze comes five years after a massive fire broke out in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, devastating large parts of the 850-year-old church.

CNN’s Julen Chavin contributed to this report.

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