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‘A Long, Horrible Death:’ North Texas Artists Witness Fire Ravaging Notre Dame Cathedral

Thibault Camus
Associated Press
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris on Monday.

Thousands of people crowded the streets of Paris on Monday as Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames. Among the throngs: a pair of North Texas artists celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

Eric Ligon, who's associate dean of the University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design, is vacationing in Paris with his wife, Leslie. 

"It was quiet," he told KERA. "There were people weeping around us; it is an unbelievable loss to the city. ... The people around us in the crowd called Notre Dame the North Star in the city. It is the center. The history. It's exquisitely beautiful gothic cathedral."

The Ligons missed the chance to go inside because of crowds over the weekend.

"We’d just walked over to the Seine after dinner along the way back to our hotel," Leslie Ligon wrote on Facebook. "I looked up and saw a lot of smoke and said, 'Oh wow something’s burning.' "

French officials say that although the iconic spire collapsed, the cathedral is not a total loss.

The fire comes while Catholics mark Holy Week. Ligon said the cathedral had been packed with people during Palm Sunday. 

As Leslie Ligon put it Monday, "It was like watching someone you know a little die a long, horrible death."

Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.