SEATTLE -- The City of Paris is at a standstill after the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames.
The sight of the global landmark on fire drew attention and reaction from people from across the world, including right here in Western Washington.
The Notre Dame Cathedral packed with history, art, and religious artifacts was undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation when the blaze erupted.
While it's still unknown if that played a role in starting the fire, the fact that this happened at the start of holy week has made the devastation even more emotional.
“There’s been people praying at that sight for 2,000 years,” said Mark Markuly, Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University.
Markuly says he’s admired Notre Dame’s history, design, and religious significance since his first visit back in the 1970s.
“It’s an enormous architectural loss to the whole world,” Markuly explained. “For those of us of who are people of faith and particularly for people of Christian and Catholic faith, it’s a loss of one of the landmarks of Catholicism.”
Hours after the fire started, the roof collapsed and the spire came crashing down from the cathedral built more than 800 years ago.
While there is significant damage to Notre Dame, which was designed with heavy timber and little fire protection, firefighters say the main structure and important relics inside have been saved.
“The Mayor of Paris is already talking about rebuilding,” Markuly said. “Now it won’t be the same and a lot of it depends on what’s left in the rubble.”
At St. James Cathedral in Downtown Seattle, bells rang in solidarity with the people of Paris. Outside of St. James, Steven Kritsonis was still in disbelief about the news.
“They can’t reduplicate it,” Kritsonis said. “They can try but it can’t be reduplicated. It’s such a landmark, a historical and religious landmark I can’t believe this happened.”
While the Paris prosecutor’s office has ruled out arson and possible terror related motives, they’re now calling the fire an accident.
On this holy week, the hope now is that Notre Dame will also rise from the ashes.
“It’s been taken over and occupied by all kinds of different kinds of people and managed to endure through the centuries so in some ways it’s a symbol of the human spirit to endure,” said Dean Mark Markuly.
People from across the world are already making a commitment to restore the global landmark with fundraisers for renovations already underway.