PARIS -- A Clemmons woman visiting Paris described watching the fire raging at Notre Dame Cathedral.
The spire atop the iconic cathedral collapsed amid the devastating fire on Monday.
"From our hotel room we watched the big tall spire go straight down into the nave of the church," Debbie Furr said.
Images and video showed flames and thick plumes of smoke billowing up and around the spire, which is surrounded by scaffolding. Video showed the flaming spire lean to one side and then collapse amid the smoke.
The fire rapidly spread and took over the iconic cathedral as onlookers scrambled to get a view of the destruction, even as soot and cinder fell onto them. Firefighters atop cherry picker cranes sprayed water onto the church in an attempt to calm the flames.
"It really is no other word than sickening to watch such an incredible piece of history with amazing architecture just go up in flames," Furr said.
Furr said she had seen people praying in the streets as the fire raged.
The medieval cathedral was completed in the 13th century and is considered a feat of architecture as much as a religious symbol.
It was not immediately known what caused the fire and whether anybody was injured. The cathedral has been surrounded by scaffolding and was under construction.
CNN contributed to this report.