On 27 July 1944, during intense combat between German troops and Allied forces, an artillery shell hits the roof of the cemetery and sets its wooden framework alight. The heat of the flames and the molten lead running down the walls destroy large sections of the wall paintings. A few weeks after the fire, the Monuments unit of the US Army (MFAA) constructs a provisional roof and gathers Italian specialists to collect hundreds of fresco fragments from the floor of the galleries.