[PHOTOS] A 'major fire' has ripped through the historic cathedral in Nantes, France

Arson suspected after three blazes inside 1434 Nantes cathedral destroyed the organ and damaged stained glass windows - a year after blaze left Notre-Dame in ruins.

Police have launched an arson investigation after an inferno broke out at Nantes Cathedral this morning which took 104 firefighters to control.


Smoke was seen billowing out of the 15th-century structure in France as emergency services desperately tried to extinguish the inferno which is believed to have started at the cathedral's organ.

Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said three fires had been started at the site and authorities were treating the incident as a criminal act. He gave no other details.

The blaze comes just over a year after a major fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which destroyed its roof and main spire.

Local fire chief Laurent Ferlay told reporters 104 firemen were still at the site to ensure the blaze was completely under control.



The fire had broken out behind the grand organ, which was completely destroyed, he said. Stained glassed windows at the front of the cathedral were blown out.

However, the damage was not as bad as initially feared.

'It is a part of our history, a part of our heritage' Nantes Mayor Johanna Rolland said. 'We all have these images in mind, this story in our hearts, but at this stage the situation does not seem to be comparable to that of 1972.'

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin will be among officials who will go to Nantes Saturday afternoon in reaction to the blaze.

'We are not in a Notre Dame de Paris scenario. The roof has not been touched,' Ferlay said.

It was not the first time fire has damaged the cathedral.

It was partly destroyed during World War Two in 1944 after Allied bombings. In 1972 a fire completely ravaged its roof. It was finally rebuilt 13 years later with a concrete structure replacing the ancient wooden roof.

'The fire of 1972 is in our minds, but at this stage the simulation is not comparable,' Nantes Mayor Johanna Rolland told reporters.

Cecile Renaud, who works in a bakery facing the cathedral and alerted the fire services early on Saturday, told BFM TV she had seen huge flames inside the building.

'It was a huge shock. It's extremely sad.'

In 2015, a fire that appeared to have been caused by renovation work destroyed most of the roof of another church in Nantes, the Saint Donatien Basilica.

Cecile Renaud, who works in a bakery facing the cathedral and alerted the fire services early on Saturday, told BFM TV she had seen huge flames inside the building.

'It was a huge shock. It's extremely sad.'

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