Tourists are evacuated from Palace of Versailles as fire breaks out in roof

Tourists are evacuated from Palace of Versailles as fire breaks out in roof

  • Footage showed trails of white smoke emerging from the 17th century chateau

A fire has broken out at France‘s historic Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris, prompting staff to order a mass evacuation of tourists.

Footage shared to social media showed trails of white smoke emerging from the roof of the immense 17th century palace located in its namesake town some 10 miles from the heart of the French capital.

French media reported that a fire alarm was triggered in one of the buildings and alerted staff who promptly called the emergency services.  

Firefighters descended on the chateau early this afternoon to extinguish the blaze as tourists and staff members flooded out of the storied building and into the sprawling gardens that surround it. 

Clips showed hundreds of unsettled visitors flooding the courtyard outside one of the buildings as the firefighters entered the building to locate and extinguish the flames.  

Hundreds of tourists and staff members were evacuated from the palace

White smoke is seen pouring from the roof of the Palace this afternoon

An aerial photograph taken on April 28, 2021 shows the Royal Chapel after its renovation at the Chateau de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) in Versailles, in the outskirts of Paris

A general view of the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Versailles Palace near Paris

A palace spokesperson confirmed at 3:30pm that a fire had broken out but said firefighters had managed to get the blaze extinguished. 

‘Firefighters came. There is no more smoke, no more flames and there is no damage to the collection. 

‘The incident was quickly brought under control and the public was evacuated as a safety measure. 

‘The Castle and gardens are now open,’ the statement said. 

The Palace, built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV, was the main royal residence until the French Revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1789.

It is one of France’s most popular tourist destinations along with the likes of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral and the Louvre. 

Notre Dame suffered a devastating fire of its own in 2019 that destroyed its roof and required a mammoth renovation project that is still ongoing today. 

The Notre Dame's new spire was seen for the first time in February. The spire is adorned with a golden rooster and cross

Notre Dame cathedral was devastated by a fire in April 2019 and French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild it

Scaffolding from the top of the Gothic cathedral has been removed

 In February of this year, workers unveiled the cathedral’s new spire for the first time – a golden rooster perched atop a cross resembling a phoenix rising from the ashes. 

Designers said the new spire, which was installed in December, symbolises resilience and renewal.

In April 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame after the fire fire gutted the famous Catholic cathedral.

The 300ft-tall Gothic spire collapsed into the embers early in the blaze and a lot of the building – deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site – was destroyed.

Cathedral officials said that the spire alone was protected by around 70,000 pieces of scaffolding – totalling to a dizzying 600 tonnes – prior to its unveiling in February. 

An anti-fire misting system has also been implemented beneath the cathedral’s roof and the original cross has been recreated. 

The 300ft-tall Gothic spire collapsed into the embers early in the blaze and a lot of the UNESCO World Heritage building was destroyed

Other restoration efforts include an anti-fire misting system beneath the cathedral's roof and the original cross has been recreated

A resident near the cathedral, Frederico Benani, who witnessed the blaze five years ago, felt emotional at seeing the new spire.

He said: ‘I can open the window in the morning. I see Notre Dame. I see the spire – it’s for me, beautiful and it’s much better (than) before. It gives us hope.’

Notre Dame is still surrounded by scaffolding as builders work fervently to meet the planned reopening date of December 8. 

It was initially hoped the iconic landmark would be ready to host tourists again by the Paris Olympics in July and August, but the extent of the damage meant the renovations were simply too complex.

David Averre

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