Local residents react to destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral

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By Tris DeRoma

The tragic fire that engulfed the spire and towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris drew reaction from the international community in Los Alamos County Monday.

Marcel Remillieux, owner of Fleur de Lys Bakery and Coffee Shop on Trinity Drive, said he is as shocked as anyone else, especially since it’s the beginning of Holy Week. 

Remillieux was just on his way to Denver to pick his wife Stephanie up from the airport. She was just coming back from a two-week vacation in France when she heard the news on the plane.

The Remillieux’s have visited the 12th century cathedral many times. Marcel Remillieux said the history of the place, both religious and royal, is overwhelming as it spans almost a thousand years.

Even in more recent times, it survived tragedy, but escaped the fate that happened Monday.

“It survived the French Revolution, where the revolution tried to reduce the Catholic faith to nothing, it survived World WWII. It was the place the Americans came in 1944 to liberate France… and now at the beginning of the 21st century it’s all going up in flames. It’s very tragic,” Marcel Remillieux said. 

Los Alamos resident and artist Gloria Gilmore-House, who was at the cathedral sometime in the 1970s when she was studying for a degree in Medieval Art from Columbia University, remembered many things about the almost thousand-year-old structure, one of them being the “Point Zero” geographical marker located just outside of the cathedral. Using the marker, one can calculate the distance from Paris to any other place in the country.

“The heart of France is burning right now,” she said.    

According to the latest news from the Associated Press, the fire collapsed the cathedral's spire and spread to one of its landmark rectangular towers, but Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church's structure had been saved after firefighters managed to stop the fire spreading to the northern belfry.

The cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The exact cause of the blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is "potentially linked" to a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church's spire and its 250 tons of lead. The Paris prosecutors' office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives, and said it was treating it as an accident.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.