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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

The fire in the towering tower of the medieval cathedral in the French city of Rouen is under control

The fire in the towering tower of the medieval cathedral in the French city of Rouen is under control

PARIS (AP) — A fire broke out Thursday in the tower of Rouen’s medieval cathedral, a major landmark in northern France that was under renovation, but authorities said it was quickly brought under control.

Witnesses told French television they saw smoke billowing from the spire just after noon and recalled a devastating fire in 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris that toppled its spire and collapsed its roof.

Considered a Gothic masterpiece, Rouen’s 12th-century cathedral is much-loved, not least because of a series of paintings by Impressionist Claude Monet that capture its asymmetrical west facade. It is also the tallest church in France and among the tallest cathedrals in the world – and is famous for its three towers, each built in a different style.

Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol first posted on social media platform X around noon that “the start of a fire is underway on the spire of Rouen cathedral.”

Less than 90 minutes later, Stephane Gouezec, of the Seine-Maritime fire department, said the source of the fire had been located – about 120 meters (about 400 feet) high – and that the fire had been contained. Crews were working to make sure there were no “hot spots” left, he added.

But he told reporters that the risk of the flames spreading was low because the fire was in an area that was mostly metal.

Gouezec said construction workers were the first to notice the fire and alert authorities.

The cathedral was evacuated and a security perimeter was set up, according to regional officials.

Witnesses in Rouen were nervous because the memory of the Notre Dame fire in Paris is still etched in the national consciousness. It caught fire five years ago while under renovation and is scheduled to reopen in December after an unprecedented rebuilding effort. The cause of that fire was ruled an accident.

The Associated Press

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