French police have opened an arson investigation into a fire at a Gothic cathedral in Nantes.
The blaze broke out in three places in the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul on 18th July.
Although more than 100 firefighters contained the blaze within two hours and stopped it from spreading to the main body of the church, a 17th-century choir organ at the west end of the building was destroyed with much of the choir area and multiple stained-glass windows.
The mayor of Nantes immediately announced a criminal investigation into the fire because it appeared to have started at multiple locations.
A volunteer at the cathedral was questioned and released by police.
The cathedral in Nantes is considered to be a jewel of French architecture. It was begun in 1434 and completed only in 1891. The French government has designated it as a historic monument because of its architectural significance.
The blaze was the second at the cathedral in less than 50 years. In 1972, a fire destroyed so much of its roof that it took 13 years before repairs were completed and it could reopen to the public once more.
Laurent Ferlay, the regional fire chief, told French media that the damage to Nantes cathedral was not as grave as that caused by the previous fire nor comparable to damage caused by the fire at Notre Dame in Paris in April 2019.
Picture: French firefighters gather at the scene of a blaze at the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Nantes on 18th July 2020. Police are investigating the incident as arson because the fire started in three different places. (CNS photo/Stephane Mahe, Reuters).