A fire broke out Saturday in the 15th century Gothic cathedral of the western French city of Nantes, shattering stained glass windows and sending black smoke spewing from between its towers as firefighters fought the blaze.
Residents and tourists watched aghast, and emergency workers cordoned off the area around the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral, in the old centre of the city on the Loire River.
Firefighters warned people to avoid the area while efforts to extinguish the blaze are under way.
A City Hall official said the fire broke out Saturday inside the cathedral, and the cause is unclear.
The fire broke the main stained glass windows between the two towers of the 15th century cathedral, which also suffered a serious fire in 1972.
The fire brought back memories of the devastating blaze in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last year that destroyed its roof and collapsed its spire and threatened to topple the medieval building .
Cecile Renaud, who works in a bakery facing the cathedral and alerted the fire services early on Saturday, told BFM TV she had seen huge flames inside the building.
“It was a huge shock. It’s extremely sad.”
It is not the first time the cathedral has caught fire. It was partly destroyed during the second World War in 1944 after Allied bombings. In 1972 a fire completely ravaged its roof. It was finally rebuilt 13 years later.–Reuters and PA