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

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

Harrison officials carefully monitoring E.coli levels in lagoon

Levels testing unusually high for this time of year, officials say

Flock on vacation

The sun sets over Harrison and its feathered residents

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

Most Read