PARIS, France — A Charlotte family was among some of the last people to be inside the Notre Dame Cathedral before it went up in flames.
The fire started Monday afternoon and caused the roof to collapse and destroyed a spire. The cause of the fire isn't known at this time, but the Paris prosecutors' office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives.
A city official says the two landmark towers of the building has been saved.
"There were hundreds maybe thousands all lined up just watching as this was unfolding," said Don Jonas, a Charlotte man who witnessed the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.
It wasn't the historic site the Jonas family hoped to see Monday.
"It was emotionally, extraordinarily sad," Don Jonas said.
Before the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire, Don Jonas's children posed for pictures inside the church. The Charlotte family was on Spring Break. After their tour, the Jonas's left and went to get food.
"We noticed a little commotion out in the street," Don Jonas said. "People were kind of pointing up at the sky. I asked my son, who's a 16-year-old at Myers Park, to go check it out."
With heavy hearts the Jonas family witnessed 850 years of history go up in smoke.
"There were priests that were weeping," Don Jonas said. "It was just a very emotional time to be there."