DENISON, Tex. (KXII) -- "It's very sad that it's being subjected to the fire because it withstood. Nazi Germany didn't bomb it in the second world war," said a local catholic leader who didn't want to go on camera.
He says he was distraught at Monday's news Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral was burning.
It's a scenario that hit close to home, since his own parish burned to the ground in 1911.
"This present structure was built in 1914. The original was built but in 1911 it burned. They reconstructed on the site the new church," he said.
French officials say while the cathedral's two towers were saved, its spire collapsed.
Texas Tech student Macy Lillibridge, who is studying abroad in Paris, she had just visited the cathedral hours before it caught fire.
"We walk out and the sky is just filled with smoke. There are people just standing with their mouths wide open. Silent," said Lillibridge.
The leader says Notre Dame is more than just a church but the center of a community that went up in smoke.
"It just makes you sad when you see the historical dimensions of this church," he said.
The fire is met with disbelief, from those who watched it in Paris, to those around the world.
"People are just watching it, not knowing what to do or how to handle it," said Lillibridge.
"It really is sort of a punch in the stomach."