A fire broke out in the Gothic cathedral of the western French city of Nantes, shattering stained glass windows and sending black smoke billowing from between its towers as firefighters fought the blaze. \n\nResidents and tourists watched aghast, and emergency workers cordoned off the area around St Peter and St Paul Cathedral, in the historical centre of this city on the Loire River. \n\nThe local firefighter service warned people to avoid the area while efforts to extinguish the blaze were ongoing. The cause is unclear. \n\nThe fire broke the main stained glass windows between the two towers of the 15th-century cathedral, which also suffered a serious fire in 1972. \n\nIt is \u0022a dramatic event for the lives of the people of Nantes\u0022, says the prosecutor of Nantes, Pierre Senn\u00e8s, in front of the cathedral, after the fire was quickly contained. He noted that \u0022there is no damage to the structure\u0022 of the Gothic building, \u0022as was the case for Notre-Dame-de-Paris\u0022, but that the great organ \u0022has almost disappeared\u0022. An arson investigation has been opened. \n\nThe blaze brought back memories of the devastating fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last year that destroyed its roof, collapsed its spire and threatened to topple the medieval monument.