NCFL reacts to Notre Dame Cathedral fire

GAINESVILLE, Fla., (WCJB) --- "It was like the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning, really tragic, really sad."

It's Holy Week and the ghastly images of the cathedral of Notre Dame going up in flames touched many people here in North Central Florida.

The world-renowned church is very significant to the Catholic faith.

"I was just very heartbroken because I was fortunate enough to be able to visit it about 4 years ago and I just remembered when I first walked in like how beautiful it was," stated Morgan English, UF student.

But the damage to the landmark cathedral touched all sorts of people.

"A building that's the centerpiece of society or a community, its beloved to the people and in this case, beloved to the people of the world and you know they're facing a very difficult challenge," stated Jeff Taylor, ACFR interim deputy chief.

Distraught is what some UF students say they felt when they got the news.

" Just to see pictures of the flames and of everything just black really broke my heart because I know its such an impactful place for so many people to go and to visit," stated Jamie Tompkins, UF student.

Morris Hylton, who is a professor at UF and teaches history preservation says what will help recovery efforts is digital documentation.

" Given the significance of the Notre Dame Cathedral, not only for the French people but for the global community, undoubtedly the church will be reconstructed and in order to reconstruct the church it's going to be critical that all the previous documentation be examined," stated Morris Hylton, Director of Historic Preservation at UF.

The church housed many historical artifacts and history.

" The tragedy of it burning I think will touch anyone who knows anything about France about Paris and of course about the history of religion. It's truthfully important for the world and its not just a religious symbol, it's a cultural one and the fact that Notre Dame has been around since the middle of the 12th century," stated David G. Hackett, UF American Religious History Professor.

Since word of the fire, messages have poured in. The Matheson History Museum in Gainesville posted to Facebook that the fire is "absolutely heartbreaking! Can't even begin to imagine the devastation of such a beautiful, historic building."