DALLAS — The vivid image of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral is still etched in the minds of a handful of north Texans.
“We were driving past it as it was burning,” said Fredena Hickey.
This was Hickey’s first trip to Paris. And unfortunately, the fire happened before her scheduled tour inside the cathedral.
“We were supposed to go yesterday morning and we didn’t get a chance to make it in,” sad Hickey.
Friends Joy Kendle and Rachel Bifou visited Notre Dame on April 10. Five short days after their visit, they heard sirens while waiting to begin their boat cruise.
“We could see some of the smoke in the distance,” said Kendle.
This marked Kendle’s first trip inside the Notre Dame. And it was important for Bifou to show her what she’d seen several times.
“I’m really glad I took her that day before it happened,” said Bifou. “It’s something to see in real life, in person. Definitely not going to be the same again.”
“Last night we were looking at pictures we had taken inside the Cathedral and how none of that stuff was there anymore,” said Kendle.
Friends Miriam Ynocenio and Danielle Roy spent a few days in Paris with a group of girlfriends. They have toured the Notre Dame during past trips, and were nearby when the fire broke out.
"It was really scary, a lot of chaos,” said Ynocencio. “They closed the street right in front of us.”
These north Texans are just a few of the thousands who saw the destruction with their own eyes. But they also witnessed something else: the emotional impact this tragedy had on native Parisians.
“The storekeeper started crying when we were in there because the spire was falling,” said Ynocencio. “We could see the smoke behind us.”
“Our cabbie had to take a moment to kind of compose himself,” said Hickey. “Just making calls to his family.”
“It’s Paris,” said Roy. “When you think of Paris, you think of Notre Dame. (It’s) very sad.”