PARIS, FRANCE (WALB) - A Southwest Georgia man says he attended the last service that was held at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, before it went up in flames Monday.
Crews were able to put out the fire and preserve some of its rich history.
George Buchanan is from Albany and says for the last five years he's visited Paris, and always stops to see the Notre Dame Cathedral.
He describes the moment he saw the flames coming out of the cathedral as heartbreaking.
Arguably one of the most notable landmarks in Paris was covered in flames Monday, as 800 years of history seemed to vanish.
“Because they were in shock, they didn’t believe it was happening. It was like 9-11 for the US,” said Buchanan who is from Albany but is still in Europe Wednesday visiting, and could smell the smoke in the streets coming from the Notre Dame.
“We were fortunate enough to be in the last service that will be held there at least in our lifetime,” he said.
He visits every year and almost always stops by the Cathedral.
It’s a landmark history professor Dr. Paula Martin at Georgia Southwestern State University said you can’t not visit.
“Notre Dame you can see all the lights flooding in form the top of it and it was just one of those awe inspiring moments, to know that the history runs so deep there,” said Martin.
Its stone walls held the foundation together, but still was a major loss.
"I was just shocked, I’m watching it I’m watching it and then that spire came down, came falling down and my jaw just dropped,” said Martin.
“To see the inside, you wouldn’t think that it would burn because everything is stone,” said Buchanan.
Dr. Martin said this wasn’t the first fight the cathedral faced.
“It’s gone through a lot. During the French revolution it was damaged extensively, they’ve rebuilt it. World War II wasn’t nice when the Nazis came in and took it over during World War II. It survived it all,” she said.
Monday’s flames seemed to burn much deeper than appears.
“The crowds when we left the concert were in the thousands and people were crying,” said Buchanan.
Talk of rebuilding the Cathedral is already in place.
Though we don’t know when, more than likely this fire will be marked in history as well.
There is an investigation into the start of that fire.
Many people have already started donating millions of dollars towards its rebuilding.