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

EDITORIAL: The dilemma of living in beautiful B.C.

Tourism dollars are needed for the economy while some locals are crying ‘stay away’

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

New treatment centre for addicted youth opening in Chilliwack

Facility ready to support up to 20 youth with substance-use challenges

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Most Read