Washington D.C., May 4, 2021 / 15:53 pm (CNA).
A fire broke out on Monday evening at Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul Catholic church, in Lille, France, and has reportedly been contained.
According to local news reports, the fire originated in the sacristy of the 19th century church and reached the roof. The church is located in the city’s Wazemme district.
According to BFM TV, fire fighters were alerted to the fire around 8 p.m. local time on May 3. The local fire department reported that more than 60 firefighters mobilized in response.
A local official said that the sacristy was locked and that the fire could be accidental. The fire department said that the incident is being investigated.
Michel Lalande, prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, commended the firefighters for their response which he said prevented the fire from spreading to the entire church. The country’s minister of the interior expressed support for Catholics and Lille in a tweet.
France is losing religious buildings at the rate of one every two weeks, Edouard de Lamaze, the president of the Observatoire du patrimoine religieux (Observatory of Religious Heritage) in Paris, has said. He told CNA that buildings are frequently subject to demolition, transformation, destruction by fire, or collapse; two-thirds of fires in religious buildings are due to arson, he said.
On April 15, a fire destroyed the 16th-century Church of Saint-Pierre in Romilly-la-Puthenaye, Normandy; the fire was deemed accidental, and occurred two years after a fire severely damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Investigators said there was no evidence that fire was intentional.
According to the country’s central criminal intelligence unit, there were 877 recorded attacks on Catholic sites in 2018. Lamaze it represented a fivefold increase in 10 years.