The blades of the Moulin Rouge windmill fall in Paris

The Moulin Rouge's bright red windmill has been a ubiquitous sign atop the famous cabaret venue for more than a century.

But on Thursday, Parisians woke up to an alarming sight: the windmill's blades bent and fell to the ground after breaking loose and falling overnight.

Footage circulated in local media on Thursday showed the blades tangled on the ground in front of the building. Three letters from the illuminated “Moulin Rouge” sign also appear to have fallen.

Firefighters were called to the scene after 2 a.m., a Paris fire brigade spokeswoman said, and examined the structure to make sure nothing else threatened to fall. With the area secured and with no injuries, firefighters quickly left. The workers were clean up debris Thursday morning.

A Moulin Rouge spokeswoman said via text message that the collapse was caused by a “mechanical problem” and confirmed that no one was injured. It was the first time in the club's history that such an incident had occurred, she said.

This year the Moulin Rouge will celebrate its 135th anniversary. It has built a reputation for hosting whirlwind nights and extravagant performances, and its dancers have played an integral role in bringing the fast-paced style of modern cancan dance to the mainstream. In recent years he has tried to attract a younger crowd and opened a rooftop bar near the windmill blades.

It has already suffered damage in the past: a fire devastated the venue in 1915 and it was not reopened until almost ten years later.

The blades will be “repaired very quickly,” the Moulin Rouge spokeswoman said. It wasn't known Thursday exactly what mechanical problem caused the blades to break.

An outside company checks the windmill every two months, he said, and had last examined the blades in February.

But business at the cabaret, which features two shows a day, would continue as usual.

“The Moulin Rouge remains open,” he said.

Ségolène Le Stradic contributed a report from Paris.

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