HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- A local Connecticut family was one of thousands in Paris, and millions worldwide, who watched as Notre Dame Cathedral go up in flames on Monday night.
Channel 3 spoke with the Souza family via FaceTime on Monday evening who said they were visiting the Eiffel Tower, only blocks away, when they said they saw smoke billowing from Notre Dame.
The historic landmark was devastated by flames that toppled its spire and threatened centuries-old art inside.
Glastonbury resident, Diane Souza and her daughter-in-law, Paige, of Fairfield stood with hundreds on a sidewalk as the smoke billowed.
“It was ravaging. It went so quickly. To see it go down that way, was just so sad. It’s devastating to a city like Paris,” said Diane.
Every year the Souza family visits Paris, always making a trip to Notre Dame, but today, they said it was much different.
“It’s very subdued. Everyone’s looking, everyone’s questioning. You feel very sad and you can see it in people. The town is very quiet,” said Diane.
For centuries, Notre Dame remained the beating heart of French Catholicism and attracted more than 13 million visitors a year.
The Souza family said they’ve contributed to the Cathedral’s many renovation efforts, but today, they said they fear parts of the building cannot be replaced.
“To think that it’s no longer there just makes me want to cry. I mean it really does. It’s just unbelievable that this has happened here,” said Diane.
Outside, a crowd of mourners, singing hymns and prayers grew outside on the Paris sidewalks
“I think people are home, they’re glued to their TVs, they’re trying to really think about what Paris will be like without Notre Dame,” said Diane.
The Souza family told Channel 3 they plan to visit Notre Dame tomorrow and hope they can get close enough to see the damage.