Man in custody after Nantes cathedral fire: French media

The suspect is a Rwandan refugee who worked as a volunteer and was in charge of locking up the cathedral.

Fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul in Nantes
Onlookers gather at the scene of a fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul in Nantes, France [Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

A 39-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fire in the 15th-century cathedral in the French city of Nantes that blew out stained glass windows and destroyed the grand organ.

The man, a Rwandan refugee, worked as a volunteer for the cathedral and had been in charge of locking up the building on Friday night, TV channel LCI reported on Sunday, citing a prosecutor.

Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said the man in custody was being held to clear up inconsistencies in his schedule.

He said three fires were reported at the site and there had been no signs of a break-in. Authorities said an investigation for suspected arson had been opened.

The blaze began on Saturday morning, engulfing the inside of the Gothic structure in flames.

The fire destroyed stained glass windows and the 17th-century grand organ – a star attraction of the cathedral.

Firefighters brought it under control after several hours and extinguished it completely by the afternoon.

It happened about a year after a fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris which destroyed its roof and main spire.

The building was last hit by fire in 1972 and its roof took more than 13 years to repair.

Regional fire chief Laurent Ferlay said on Saturday the damage was not comparable to the 1972 blaze, or to last year’s devastating blaze at the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Much of Notre-Dame’s roof and the wooden structure was destroyed, its steeple collapsed and fumes containing toxic molten lead billowed into the air.

Source: News Agencies