ECU professor from France saddened over Notre Dame fire

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) ECU biology professor Jean-Luc Scemama coudn't believe it when he heard the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France was consumed by flames.

Scemama was born in the south of France and has lived in the U.S. for the past 27 years.

At ECU, Scemama says, "I was here an in fact my wife texted me about it. Interestingly when she texted me she talked about Notre Dame and i asked if it was in Marseilles."

Marseilles, France is site to the Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, this though he quickly figured out was the cathedral in Paris.

Scemama says, "I think the first thing that came to mind was sadness because that's approximately more than 800 years of French history and after the fact I started thinking this survived the French Revolution, World War I, World War II, it even became an icon during WW11 when Paris was liberated. So seeing so much history going up in flames, that was kind of very sad, yes."

What also struck Scemema in addition to the powerful flames was seeing so many on the streets take in the historical moment.

Scemama says, "What was interesting to me to see was the reaction of people in Paris and singing in the street and showing their sadness for the same reason, be part of history while it's going up in flames."

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to see the cathedral restored in five years.