Fire in 11th-century cathedral in France's Rouen contained, damage unclear (Lead)

Paris, July 11 (IANS) The spire of France's famous Rouen cathedral caught fire on Thursday, and while the blaze has been contained, the extent of the damage is yet to be ascertained, officials said.
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Fire in 11th-century cathedral in France's Rouen contained, damage unclear (Lead)

Paris, July 11 (IANS) The spire of France's famous Rouen cathedral caught fire on Thursday, and while the blaze has been contained, the extent of the damage is yet to be ascertained, officials said.

The cause of the fire in the gothic Notre-Dame de Rouen's 150-metre-high spire - the tallest church spire in France - was still unknown, Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol posted on X.

The cathedral, built in the 11th century, has been evacuated and a security cordon placed around it, officials said.

Images on social media showed flames near the top of the cathedral, where restoration work had been going on since 2015, as per French media.

While the local administration said that the blaze had been contained, the extent of damage to the structure is unclear for now.

Briefing reporters on the incident, Culture Minister Rachida Dati termed the fire accidental. Meanwhile Archbishop of Rouen, Monsignor Dominique Lebrun said that the artefacts in the cathedral were safe, local media reports said.

The cathedral had been a favourite monument for renowned French impressionist artist Claude Monet, who painted it several times.

The Rouen fire has rekindled memories of the devastating blaze at the Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral in 2019, leaving its iconic spire destroyed. That fire also started during renovations. An arson attempt was suspected but investigators later ruled it out.

While reconstruction works are on, authorities had said that the spire would be back in place by the Paris Olympics, which begin later this month. However, the deadline will not be met and the reopening of the cathedral is unlikely before December.

--IANS

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