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

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

RCMP still investigating body found between Nelson, Castlegar

Halimi’s body was found between Nelson and Castlegar in May 2018

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Prominent Slocan Valley environmental activist dies

Marilyn Burgoon was ‘tough and determined’

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Most Read