Thick black smoke was filmed pouring out of Rouen Cathedral's main spire in the late morning, in an area where renovation work was taking place

A mystery fire broke out in at Rouen Cathedral in northern France today as visitors were told to evacuate the ancient place of worship.

Thick black smoke was filmed pouring out of its main spire in the late morning, in an area where renovation work was taking place.

‘Fire engines are at the scene, and the cathedral has been evacuated,’ said an emergency services spokesman.

The city’s mayor, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, took to X to say: ‘A fire has started on the spire of Rouen Cathedral. Origin unknown at this stage. All public resources are mobilised.’

Local media reported that 33 fire engines and 63 firefighters were at the scene, which has been cordoned off. Public transport in the city of around 110,000 people was severely disrupted. 

The cause of the fire still remains unknown at this point. It has since been brought under control. 

Thick black smoke was filmed pouring out of Rouen Cathedral's main spire in the late morning, in an area where renovation work was taking place

Thick black smoke was filmed pouring out of Rouen Cathedral’s main spire in the late morning, in an area where renovation work was taking place

The 1,000-year-old cathedral (pictured) was a favourite of renowned Impressionist Claude Monet, who painted it several times in the 19th century

The 1,000-year-old cathedral (pictured) was a favourite of renowned Impressionist Claude Monet, who painted it several times in the 19th century

The middle tower has been covered in a protective tarpaulin for several weeks, local media reported, adding that the blaze appears to have started from a work platform. 

The spire is ‘not made of wood but of metal’, according to local sources. 

The 1,000-year-old cathedral was a favourite of renowned Impressionist Claude Monet, who painted it several times in the 19th century. 

It was in the middle of a seven-year restoration project that began in 2017, according to France’s ministry of culture.  

Rouen Cathedral was consecrated in 1062, when William, Duke of Normandy, who later became William the Conqueror, was present.

Our Lady (Notre Dame) of the Assumption Cathedral – its full name – at Rouen is now famous for its three towers, and it was the main central one that was ablaze on Thursday.

The Cathedral suffered direct hits during RAF and American bombing just before D-Day in 1944, and has been undergoing renovation work almost permanently ever since. 

The middle tower has been covered in a protective tarpaulin for several weeks

The middle tower has been covered in a protective tarpaulin for several weeks

Local media reported that 33 fire engines and 63 firefighters were at the scene, which has been cordoned off

Local media reported that 33 fire engines and 63 firefighters were at the scene, which has been cordoned off

The cause of the fire still remains unknown at this point

The cause of the fire still remains unknown at this point

It was in the middle of a seven-year restoration project that began in 2017

It was in the middle of a seven-year restoration project that began in 2017

The blaze in northern France follows the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris being destroyed by a devastating fire in April 2019.

The fire at Notre Dame in Paris also started at a site where renovation work was going on, and faulty electrics or a discarded cigarette were thought to have started it. 

By the time the fire was extinguished, Notre Dame’s wooden spire had collapsed, most of the wooden roof has been destroyed and the structure’s upper walls were heavily damaged. 

Three emergency workers were hurt during the blaze.  

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