A man has been taken into custody as part of an investigation into a series of fires, which are believed to have been started deliberately, at the Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul in the western French city of Nantes.
The 39-year-old man was arrested at his home on Saturday afternoon, and the prosecutor revealed that he was in custody on Sunday morning.
According to local media reports, the individual is understood to be a Rwandan man who worked for the diocese as a volunteer. He was not previously known to police, according to the Europe1 news outlet.
On Saturday, prosecutor Pierre Sennes revealed that three fires had been started at the church. The blazes completely destroyed the cathedral’s grand organ, smashed a prominent stained glass window on the building’s facade, and ravaged a valuable 19th-century painting that had been sent from Rome.
Prosecutor Pierre Sennes revealed that three fires had been started at the church and authorities were treating the incident as a criminal act. He declined to give further details.
An eyewitness who lives near the cathedral earlier told the LCI news outlet that he was woken up by “a very strange sound of bells” and he could see the fire from his home. “From what I can see, there is more and more smoke,” he said.
The roof of the Catholic cathedral previously suffered fire significant damage in 1972 when a blaze broke out. The impressive building had to be closed for three years to allow the necessary restorations to take place. The church was also partly destroyed during World War Two when it was bombed by Allied forces in 1944.
The fire comes just over a year after Notre Dame fell victim to a massive blaze, which destroyed its main spire and caused extensive damage.