by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor
Hazardous materials from renovation work complicated fire fighting efforts to save the Hôtel Lambert on the Île St Louis in Paris early Wednesday morning (Euronews).
Built from 1640-44 for the financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert, the mansion had been purchased in the 19th century by Polish exiles of the Czartoryski family (owners of Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine) and purchased from the Rothschild family in 2007 by a Qatar prince. Many politicians, writers (George Sand) and musicians (Chopin) had worked or stayed at Hôtel Lambert.
Angelique Christafis of The Guardian reported more than 140 firefighters and 50 fire engines battled for six hours a blaze believed to have begun on the roof of the 17th century mansion which has been under a controversial renovation. Damage is being assessed:
The Paris fire brigade, which has not yet given a cause for the start of the fire, said work was taking place to establish the extent of fire, smoke and water damage to historic interiors and decorative artwork on walls and ceilings.
Hôtel Lambert is included in UNESCO's World Heritage Site, "Paris, Banks of the Seine."Before the fire, many works inside the building remained in an almost pristine state, including a series of frescos in the gallery of Hercules by Charles Le Brun, the 17th-century French artist who also worked for Louis XIV.
In February, the historic Villa Casdagli in Cairo (and former American Embassy) in also suffered extensive fire damage (here's a report by Dr. Joris Kila, Chairman of the International Cultural Resources Working Group).