TWU professor Dr. Kelsey Haskett made her way through heavy crowds and took this picture of the burning cathedral. Courtesy Kelsey Haskett

‘800 years of history crumble before my eyes’: B.C. woman recounts Notre Dame fire

Blaze that gutted historic cathedral called ‘one of the saddest things I have seen in my life’

As fire raged through historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday, Langley resident Kelsey Haskett was among the horrified witnesses.

“With thousands of Parisians and others I have just seen 800 years of history crumble before my eyes,” Haskett said.

Dr. Haskett, chair of the school of modern culture and languages at Trinity Western University, spends every summer teaching in Paris.

When news of the fire broke, Haskett took the Paris Metro subway to get as close as she could.

“[I] pushed my way little by little through thick crowds until I was near the front of the crowd,” Haskett said.

She described “an atmosphere of hushed silence with groups of people here and there singing hymns and prayers.”

“Someone read a passage from Isaiah – from today’s mass. Numerous tourists had come for Easter – you could hear every language being spoken in hushed tones. Lining the streets all the big news outlets of the world were telling the story to their audiences.”

“I finally squeezed back out of the huge crowd watching the front of the cathedral and took a circuitous route through the Latin Quarter to see the side – where the firemen’s hoses were no match for the fire that was still ravaging the entire wooden framework on the inside of the cathedral, below where the roof had been.”

Haskett called the sight “one of the saddest things I have seen in my life, and one of the most sobering.”

READ MORE: Fire out, organ intact but work ahead for charred Notre Dame

VIDEO: Massive fire engulfs beloved Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Firefighters waged a more than 12-hour battle to extinguish the inferno that destroyed the Notre Dame spire and roof, but spared its bell towers and the Crown of Christ.

Officials said the world famous 18th century organ also appeared to have survived.

Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire expressed“enormous relief” at the salvaging of irreplaceable pieces that were transported to a “secret location” after the fire.

– with files from Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Ken Derkach apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Preparations for flooding in the Shuswap accelerate

A sandbagging machine and a crew to run it have been set up in Silver Creek.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

From mouldy attics to giant wasp nests, Shuswap home inspector shares surprising finds

Salmon Arm’s Brad Campbell assembling photo gallery of disturbing discoveries

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

Emergency crews rush youth to hospital after quadding accident in West Kelowna

West Kelowna Fire Rescue’s new off-road vehicle was used in the rescue

Shuswap History in Pictures: Floodwater food run

A young boy rows through Sicamous’ streets during the 1972 flood.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Most Read