French police took custody of a 39-year-old man after a fire broke out in the 15th-century Nantes Cathedral over the weekend.
The man who was an asylum seeker from Rwanda, worked as a volunteer for the cathedral, according to a report by Al Jazeera quoting television channel LCI. He was being held to clear up inconsistencies in his schedule.
The man had been in charge of locking up the cathedral last Friday when the cathedral was engulfed in flames, destroying the stained-glass window and the 17th-century organ which was the cathedral’s star attraction.
More than 100 firefighters were deployed during the fire which was brought under control after several hours. It was said to be completely extinguished by the afternoon.
Police said there was a possibility of arson, and have opened an investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Nantes City has announced a criminal probe into the fire as it appeared to have started in several areas.
The fire incident occurred about a year after the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was put on fire, destroying its roof and main spire. The building was last hit by fire in 1972 it took more than 13 years for its roof to be repaired.
Regional fire chief Laurent Ferlay was quoted as saying on Saturday that the damage was not comparable to the 1972 blaze, or to last year’s blaze at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Much of Notre Dame’s roof and the wooden structure was destroyed, with its steeple collapsing and fumes containing toxic molten lead billowing into the air.
The cathedral in Nantes was considered a jewel of French architecture. It started construction in 1434 and was completed only in 1891.
The French government designated Nantes Cathedral as a historic monument due to its architectural significance.
“I am saddened to learn of the fire at Nantes cathedral,” Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Rheims, president of the French bishops’ conference, said in a Twitter post.
“I salute the work of the firefighters,” he said, adding that the building, which expresses the soul of a city “is bruised. May the faith, hope and charity which it signifies make us live them (the theological virtues) evermore.”
PHOTO BY FLICKR