With Notre Dame damaged by fire, Novi students in French class reflect on iconic church

A fire that decimated part of Notre Dame has caused heart ache around the world. 

As some watched flames scorch the famous church on TV, others heard the news from family.

"My mom texted me like, 'the cathedral is burning down.'" said Liam McCarthy.

McCarthy, a high school student enrolled in a French language course in Novi recently visited the structure over spring break. Along with a dozen classmates, the 10-day-trip took him to some of the most iconic parts of Paris.

"A 700-year-old piece of history we got to see and unfortnately it's burning down," he said.

While under investigation, fire officials don't believe foul play was involved and attribute the blaze to the  6 million-euro rennovation project being conducted on the structure. Scaffolding placed along Notre Dame's roof caught fire, before flames scaled the spire - later toppling it. 

Novi students spent classtime Monday afternoon discussing the architectural treasure. Having toured the cathedral just weeks ago, the class of students were some of the last to see the church in its original form.

"I went to watch it on the news and as I was looking at it, I saw the spire in the back - I saw it actually burn down," McCarthy said. "It was terrible."

With TV cameras streaming the devastation across the world, many photographs also surfaced showing Parisians and tourists in disbelief, watching smoke billow from the church's roof. Despite the damage, the Paris fire chief said the structure of Notre Dame had been saved, keeping the fire from spreading to the northern belfry.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild Notre Dame, and planned on seeking international help to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report