Many people around the world and on the Central Coast are devastated to learn of the destruction caused to Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris).
This cathedral is a historic monument that many people have fond memories of and to watch it burn in front of their eyes, they say is heartbreaking.
“It’s beautiful, just this feeling of reverence nothing compares to Notre Dame,” said Tim Thurston, a resident of Paso Robles.
Thurston remembers his first time inside Notre Dame de Paris back in 2017.
He says three hours admiring the iconic Gothic beauty wasn’t enough.
“The stained glass windows, like all over the place like you just don’t see that anymore,” said Thurston.
For Ellowyn Isaacson, the centuries old monument still takes her breath away even after five visits.
“The hundreds of years that it’s been there, the French Revolution and Napoleon and the world wars and the occupation and it’s been there the whole time and you get that sense of history so it’s very awe inspiring,” said Ellowyn Isaacson, who last visited Notre Dame in 2016.
Flames destroyed the spire and the roof, the plume of smoke could be seen for miles.
Many are still in disbelief.
“I started clicking through news articles and realized this is major, this is something that was going to permanently affect it somehow and I got that sick feeling in my stomach,” said Isaacson. ”I am never going to be able to take my kids there and have them experience the exact same thing I did.”
This week, Holy Week, attracts even bigger crowds for Easter.
San Luis Obispo County is part of the Catholic Diocese of Monterey, Bishop Daniel Garcia of that Diocese says it is a spiritual and artistic loss whether you are religious or not.
“Now we are about to enter into the further of these beautiful liturgies and it would be something that naturally you would want to go there and participate and be part of and to say I was there,” said Bishop Daniel Garcia of the Catholic Diocese of Monterey.
Other people on social media said it is “horrible”, “tragic” and “devastating”.
Crowds of Parisians and tourists gathered many crying and snapping pictures of this iconic building collapsing in front of them.
However, many hope something beautiful will rise from the ashes.
“I think of how many people have dedicated their entire lives to Notre Dame over the centuries and building it and I hope that these people won’t be scared off and that they will come back and put even more passion into their work,” said Isaacson.
About 30,000 people visit Notre Dame every day.
Paris fire officials say one firefighter was seriously injured while battling the blaze. No other injuries were reported.
Cal Poly says one student is studying abroad in Paris right now, and one faculty member is attending a conference there though it’s unclear if they witnessed the fire.