On Saturday, the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Nantes, France was set ablaze in what is being investigated as suspected arson.
Firefighters were called to the 15th century cathedral Saturday morning at 7:44 AM. By the time the fire was “under control,” over 100 firefighters were on the scene. Nantes Fire Chief Laurent Ferlay said the damage was concentrated on rose window and the “organ, which seems to be completely destroyed – its platform is very unstable and could collapse.”
Ferlay added that the fire damage was not as extensive as that of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, whose roof and famous spire collapsed last April – he said the roof was actually unaffected by the fire.
While the cause of the blaze is officially undetermined, Nantes’ public prosecutor Pierre Sennès say it’s being investigated as suspected arson. He said the fire appeared to have started in three locations: one by the organ and one by either side of the nave.
On Sunday, a 39 year old volunteer scheduled to close the cathedral the night before the arson was detained to “clarify certain elements of this person’s schedule”; however, Sennès warned against any “premature” judgement.
“We must remain careful as to the interpretation of this police custody – it’s a normal procedure. Any interpretation which could implicate this person in the commission of the facts is premature and hasty.”
The Diocese of Nantes said in a statement the fire “plunges the Christians of Loire Atlantique into a great sadness.”
“For them, the cathedral, an architectural masterpiece, is above all the mother church of the diocese. It is the place of gatherings where the important events of its history are lived.”
The roof of the gothic Nantes Cathedral was previously destroyed in a large fire in 1971, having to receive an extensive restoration similar to the Notre-Dame Cathedral.