Locals watch as Notre Dame Cathedral goes up in flames

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Tragedy has struck Paris as the Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames. More than 400 firefighters fought to put out the blaze.

Shock, grief, and chaos swept through Paris, France. Nancy Nguyen and Tim Huynh are vacationing in Paris. The couple says they were shopping right by the Notre Dame cathedral when the sky started filling with smoke. They said people were running towards the cathedral and they decided to follow them. They saw flames coming out of windows and smoke spewing out of the more than 850 year old building. A city devastated their historical and priceless landmark ablaze before their eyes.

"Just seeing little kids cry ,elders cry, you know you hurt for them," says Nguyen.

After the spire collapse, sources say the roof caved in. But it didn't take long for both tourists and Parisians to come together.

"It's a beautiful expression of the passion that the French have for this amazing piece of architecture that they live with every single day," says Dr. Thomas Russo.

Dr. Thomas Russo is a professor of Art History at Drury University. He says he just got back from a trip to the cathedral this past weekend. He says there is no way to measure the loss that this has on the historical French art.

The two towers which is the primary structure of Notre Dame are safe. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control.