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Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Chicago cathedral ravaged by fire

Plumes of smoke billow from Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral
Firefighters battled the blaze in freezing temperatures

A fire has swept through Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral - a city landmark and the seat of Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George.

US firefighters said the blaze broke out at about 0529 (1129 GMT) in an attic area and took crews several hours to put out.

Some priests and nuns were inside the church at the time but no-one was hurt.

US officials believe repair work being carried out at the site may have caused the fire at the 134-year-old cathedral.

'Tragedy'

Flames were seen shooting out of the cathedral's roof shortly after the fire began.

A number of fire trucks rushed to the scene to battle the blaze in freezing temperatures.

The fire was put out at about 0800, US officials said.

The extent of the damage is being investigated, although Chicago Archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy Lago described it as "awful".

"It's a tragedy just to see it... My heart goes out to the parishioners and those who worship here," he said.

Holy Name Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

The original church was destroyed by a fire in 1871. The new cathedral was built four years later.



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