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

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