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Michiganders Share Memories of Notre Dame Cathedral

Michiganders are among those sharing memories and sorrow over the fire that engulfed the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France.

News reports of the inferno made Jodi Roberto Hancock emotional. The Director of Student Success at Michigan State University's North Campus visited Notre Dame less than a year ago.

Roberto Hancock vividly remembered the Cathedral that was completed five centuries before the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

"Inside I remember the stained glass and the colors," said Roberto Hancock. "It's very gray, very solid, very ornate. The fact that it had stood there for 600 plus years is just unbelievable. It's heartbreaking."

Melanie McGuire is WKAR’s Sr. Director of Development. She visited the Cathedral last summer with her family.

"We actually attended mass and lit candles because I have a 90-year-old grandmother whose extremely religious," said McGuire.

She said going inside the historic monument was transformative.

"The fact there were so many people that were all there sharing that experience, that will stay with me forever," said McGuire.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the world's most visited tourist destinations, drawing some 13 million people each year. The fire's emotional impact was widely felt. People from all over described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife Michelle and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.

"Notre Dame is one of the world's great treasures, and we're thinking of the people of France in your time of grief," Obama said on Twitter. Michelle Obama, who was in Paris on Monday on a book tour, said "my heart aches with the people of France."

The Vatican said Pope Francis "has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire."

Experts say the combination of a structure that's more than 850 years old, built with heavy timber construction and soaring open spaces, and lacking sophisticated fire-protection systems left firefighters with devastatingly few options Monday once the flames got out of control.

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