French firefighters rush to put out fire at Rouen Cathedral | Arts and Culture News

The footage showed that smoke was no longer rising from the spire of the 12th century cathedral where the fire first began.

Fire engulfed the spire of a medieval cathedral in the northern French city of Rouen, but the smoke has now mostly cleared as firefighters rushed to put out the blaze.

According to the local prefecture and emergency fire authorities, the fire broke out around noon on Thursday at the Cathedral of the Assumption, which was undergoing renovation work.

One of France’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals, it was built in the 12th century and gained worldwide fame in the 19th century after being repeatedly painted by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

Footage released by France’s BFM television station shortly after the fire showed thick smoke rising from the cathedral’s central spire and people in the streets looking up in fear.

Footage broadcast by the station later showed smoke still visible through gaps in the white covering surrounding the scaffolding around the spire, but it was no longer rising in a dark plume.

Rouen mayor Nicolas Meyer Rossignol told X newspaper that the cause of the fire was unknown but that all public resources were being mobilised to put it out.

The prefecture, which exercises state power in the area, said the cathedral had been evacuated and a security cordon was put up around the building.

The government advised people to “stand apart to allow emergency responders space to work”.

The prefecture said no casualties had been reported so far and the extent of the damage was unclear, while the cathedral’s archbishop said workers carrying out renovations at the site were safe.

Built and rebuilt over more than 800 years, the cathedral features styles ranging from Early Gothic to Late Flamboyant to Renaissance, and is notable for its three towers, each built in a different style.

In 1822, a lightning strike caused a fire that destroyed the central tower’s Renaissance spire of wood and lead; a new iron spire was not completed for 60 years. At 151 metres (500 ft) high, the cathedral briefly became the tallest building in the world.

The 12th-century Tower of Saint-Romain houses the Bourdon Bell (the largest bell) named Joan of Arc and a carillon of 64 bells. The cathedral’s bells can be heard from up to 5 km (3 miles) away.

The fire in Rouen is reminiscent of the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which also occurred while the cathedral was undergoing renovation.

The cause of the disaster was a fire in the wooden framing of the cathedral’s roof.

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