French Church Sees Two Suspicious Fires In Just Four Days

Rows of bench inside a silent church with passerby moving in from exit
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A church in the French commune of Saint-Loup-Hors saw two suspicious fires in just four days, with investigators determining if one or both was intentional.

The first was a minor fire on Sunday, September 19th, where a burning banner was put out with an extinguisher located in the twelfth-century church near Bayeux.

The second fire on the following Wednesday was more substantial, according to a report from broadcaster France Bleu, and was first noticed by a passerby who saw smoke coming from the church’s roof.

Firefighters arrived quickly on the scene and got the blaze under control, but the church suffered damage to its confessional as well as seeing some paintings destroyed.

Lieutenant Olivier Moreau, deputy commander of the Bayeux rescue centre, commented on the second church fire: “When we arrived on the scene, the smoke was coming out of the ridge and the front door.”

“It was very difficult to see what was going on inside, and we had to set up a fan before we could identify where the fire was coming from,” he added. Captain Francis Néel, deputy commander of the Bayeux gendarmerie company, said the origin of the fire was under investigation.

The fire incidents in Saint-Loup-Hors come just months after a major fire at the sixteenth-century church of Romilly-la-Puthenaye in the Eure that is said to have caused as much as one to three million euros (£863,274 – £2,589,821/$1,169,055 – $3,507,165) in damages in April. The fire was later deemed to be accidental.

In May, a fire broke out at a 19th-century church in the city of Lille that required 60 firefighters to respond to it.

Edouard de Lamaze, the president of the Observatoire du Patrimoine religieux (Observatory of Religious Heritage), has claimed that France is losing as many as one religious building every two weeks and that two-thirds of the fires are arson attacks.

“Although Catholic monuments are still ahead, one mosque is erected every 15 days in France, while one Christian building is destroyed at the same pace,” Lamaze said and added: “It creates a tipping point on the territory that should be taken into account.”

Prior reports have claimed that as many as three churches are attacked in some way every day in France.

Along with church buildings, parishioners and clergy have also been attacked as well in recent years. In the case of the Nantes Cathedral fire last year, a Rwandan migrant attempted to burn down the building before ultimately stabbing a 60-year-old priest to death last month after his release.


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