from The West Australian

Fire damages landmark Paris mansion

By Marion Thibaut, AFP

A fire has damaged the landmark 17th-century Hotel Lambert in Paris.

The Hotel Lambert mansion in central Paris, a 17th-century architectural jewel with a rich history, was damaged in a major fire on Wednesday amid controversial renovations following its purchase by the Qatari royal family.

Dozens of firefighters fought the blaze for about six hours after it broke out around 2330 GMT on Tuesday (0930 AEST Wednesday) at the Lambert, a private townhouse, on Ile Saint-Louis overlooking the Seine.

Firefighters said the blaze started on the roof of the building, which was bought by Qatar’s royal family from the Rothschild banking dynasty for some 60 million euros ($A93.16 million) in 2007.

The fire “spread pretty fast because the building is empty and in the midst of renovation”, fire service Lieutenant-Colonel Pascal Le Testu told AFP. “The operation was complicated because the structure is fragile.”

Heritage experts had arrived at the mansion on Wednesday morning to check its contents but were unable to go inside due to safety concerns.

But Le Testu said the damage appeared to be extensive.

“The roof was completely devastated and the structure is weakened because a staircase and pediment over the central portion have partially collapsed,” he said.

He said the building’s famed frescoes by Charles Le Brun in the `Gallery of Hercules’ were also “severely damaged by smoke and water”.

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