Medieval cathedral in France’s Rouen catches fire, but authorities have it under control

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  • The spire of the medieval cathedral in the French city of Rouen caught fire on Thursday, but authorities said it was under control about 90 minutes later.
  • The Gothic cathedral is famous as the subject of a series of paintings by impressionist Claude Monet.
  • The fire started in a spire that was under renovation. Stephane Gouezec of the Seine-Maritime firefighters said the risk of the flames spreading was low because the fire was in an area made mostly of metal.

A fire broke out Thursday in the spire of the medieval cathedral in the northern French city of Rouen, but authorities said it was under control about 90 minutes later.

Witnesses speaking on BFM television described smoke emanating from the spire, and recalled a devastating fire in 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris that toppled its spire and collapsed its roof.

The magnificent Gothic cathedral in Rouen in Normandy is widely known from a series of paintings by impressionist Claude Monet.

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Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol posted on the social media platform X that “the beginning of a fire is underway on the spire of the cathedral of Rouen.”

Smoke is seen emanating from the spire of the Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, France.

Smoke billows from the spire of Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, northern France on July 11, 2024.  (Patrick Streiff/AFP via Getty Images)

Stephane Gouezec, of the Seine-Maritime firefighters, later said the source of the fire had been located — in a spire that was under renovation — and crews were working to ensure there were no remaining “hot spots.” But he told reporters the risk of the flames spreading was low because the fire was in an area where there was mostly metal.

A crowd stands outside of the the Rouen cathedral on an overcast day.

A crowd gathers outside the Rouen cathedral in Normandy during the funeral mass for Father Hamel on Aug. 2, 2016. French authorities say a fire broke out on the spire of the medieval cathedral on July 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

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Gouezec said construction workers were the first to notice the fire and alerted authorities.

The cathedral had been evacuated and a security perimeter was in place, according to regional officials.

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a major landmark, is scheduled to reopen in December after an unprecedented reconstruction effort. The cause of that fire was deemed an accident.

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