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article imageFrance: Nantes' Basilica Saint-Donatien in ruins after inferno

By Robert Myles     Jun 16, 2015 in World
Nantes - Fire destroyed much of one of the most celebrated churches in Nantes, France’s sixth largest city, on Monday when an inferno engulfed the Basilica Saint Donatien in the city center.
The blaze took hold in the roof of the 19th century Basilica of Saint Donatien and Saint Rogatien at about 10.30 a.m. during morning mass. The basilica is located just a short distance from Nantes city center and is one of the city’s most famous architectural treasures.
Upwards of 70 firefighters rushed to the scene but by the time they arrived it was clear they were fighting a losing battle to save the roof of the structure. Flames and smoke from the conflagration were visible across wide parts of the city.
Construction work started on the 19th century Basilique Saint-Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien, built in the Gallo-Roman style, in 1872. The imposing church, fronted by two square spires, was completed in 1889.
Recently, extensive restoration work has been carried out including stonework restoration giving the building, set back from the Place des Enfants Nantais in the centre of Nantes, a glistening, almost new-looking, countenance.
The fire is thought to have started in the roof of the building where restoration work is still ongoing.
The Nantes metropolitan area has just short of a million residents, many of whom, yesterday, took to social media expressing their sorrow at seeing one of their city’s great landmarks go up in smoke.
Former Mayor of Nantes and former French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, caught the mood of the city, tweeting: “Affecté par le violent incendie à la Basilique #SaintDonatien de #Nantes. Solidarité et pensées émues aux Nantais." — “Disturbed by the intense fire at the Saint Donatien Basilica, Nantes. Solidarity and heartfelt thoughts to the people of Nantes.”
Many passers-by uploaded photos of the inferno to social media with one Nantes resident, @AnC47654601, summing up the feelings of many, tweeting a number of photos and stating, simply, “Sad spectacle.”
The ruined basilica Saint Donatien in Nantes  France after fire engulfed the building  June 15  2014...
The ruined basilica Saint Donatien in Nantes, France after fire engulfed the building, June 15, 2014.
Another Nantes resident, Elodie Stella tweeted: "Horrible! The church of Saint Donatien in flames." as she uploaded a number of images that captured the swift progress of the inferno.
Fire rapidly took hold of the roof at the Basilica Saint Donatien in Nantes  France  leaving the bui...
Fire rapidly took hold of the roof at the Basilica Saint Donatien in Nantes, France, leaving the building in ruins.
Elodie Stella via Twitter
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