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Huge Fire Tears Through Roof Of 19th-Century French Basilica

Worshippers evacuated Saint-Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien in Nantes, western France, as the blaze erupted during Monday mass.

Posted on June 15, 2015, at 8:22 a.m. ET

A huge fire broke out at the 19th-century basilica of Saint-Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien in Nantes, Brittany, western France, on Monday morning.

Incendie à la basilique Saint Donatien #nantes

Images of smoke rising high into the Breton sky have been circulating on French social media.

The blaze was largely concentrated on the roof of the church.

A #Nantes, violent incendie en ce moment à l'église Saint Donatien.

The area was cordoned off, and around 40 firefighters were dispatched to the scene, the local fire and rescue department told FranceTV Info.

Frederic Leguiller, head of Nantes' fire operations, told Ouest France that the blaze began accidentally:

We were alerted mid-morning to a small fire in the church. Workers were working on the roof at that time. They tried to extinguish the fire immediately, without success unfortunately. Significant resources have been deployed to try to contain the fire on the roof of the church, which is not easy because of the very large volume.

He added that the "origin of the fire is still unknown."

Rev. Benoit Bertrand told local media that the fire broke out during Monday morning mass and worshippers had to be evacuated to escape the blaze, the BBC reported.

C'était vraiment horrible.. :( (pour toute utilisation, merci de me mentionner ! ) #nantes #saintdonatien #Incendie

The basilica was completed in 1889 and is named after two third-century Christian martyr brothers buried nearby.

Initial reports in French media suggest there have been no injuries. You can watch a video of the blaze below:

View this video on YouTube

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.