“We are reassured that no one was affected,” explains Sophie Fortier-Quantin, deputy mayor of Saramon, in the Gers. Thursday, March 16 around 7:30 a.m., the Saint Victor tower, part of the village church, completely collapsed, “in the space of a few seconds”, according to the parish priest Father Alain Quierzy.
Three weeks ago, several cracks were discovered at the top of the 11th century tower. This is why the town hall had “done the necessary” by securing the perimeter, pending the next intervention of a company. “There was no indication that it was going to collapse overnight,” said the deputy.
For the time being, several material damages are to be deplored: blocks of stone fell on the roofs of the six neighboring houses and in the garages. Doors and a car were also damaged. The inhabitants of these houses had to be urgently relocated. “We try to manage all of this on a day-to-day basis,” says Sophie Fortier-Quantin. The firefighters dispatched to the scene went to recover the works and liturgical objects, in view of the possible risk.
In addition, the choir is badly damaged: the part of the roof adjoining the tower has collapsed at the level of the altar. The church is therefore closed to the public, and masses are suspended until further notice. On Monday March 20, a company working in the renovation of historic buildings will intervene to support the vault and secure it. There is still a risk of collapse, at the level of the very roof of the church.
Insurance is also requested. The town hall is awaiting the expertise of Bâtiments de France and architects, as well as specialist companies. “We don’t yet know if we will be able to rebuild the tower: from a technical point of view, whether it is feasible or not, and also financially,” underlines Sophie Fortier-Quantin. And this, despite the potential financial support of the prefecture and the department.
A strong emotion
In the morning, most of the inhabitants went to the scene. “It is true that it is a very visible place within the village and to which the inhabitants were attached”, analyzes the assistant. “It was a shock to everyone. »
This tower housed “beautiful heritage elements”, deplores Sophie Fortier-Quantin, which are “still under the rubble”. For example, a famous window with three openings, of great rarity. Emphasizing the dangerousness of the place, the deputy enjoins the inhabitants to “not come to be curious, nor play stuntmen or want to recover a stone as desired by “budding archaeologists” or parishioners”. Dedicated to Saint Victor, the patron saint of the town, it was renovated in the 14th and 19th centuries, and finally in 2014, the tower was once again accessible to the public and hosted several exhibitions for eight years.
The priest of Saramon concedes to be upset by this collapse. From now on, the parish will have to organize itself. Mass will no longer be celebrated in Saramon every other Saturday evening, but in the neighboring bell towers, in Boulaur or Saint-Elix-d’Astarac.
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