Nashua artist of French heritage reacts to Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Prominent Nashua artist Dominique Boutard, who was born and raised in Nice, a coastal city in southern France, spent hours Monday swapping emails with people in her home country.

The topic: The devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

“It’s just terrible … everybody is affected very deeply by this,” Boutard said, her voice breaking at times.

Boutard, an organizer of Nashua’s annual Francophonie celebration who last year received the Diploma of Silver Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed each year by the Paris-based Academic Society of Arts-Sciences-Letters, said the profound sense of loss extends well beyond France.

“It’s a very important monument, not only for Paris, and France, but around the world,” she said.

Boutard said she fielded emails from France that described a large area around the cathedral being evacuated amid concerns the weakened structure would collapse.

Flames, she said, “seem to be spreading everywhere, very fast … everybody is so shocked. I hope they are able to save some of the facade.”

Boutard said the historic structure, which opened in 1345, has suffered damage before, but Monday’s blaze was by far the worst.

The cathedral, she added, “belonged to the world.”