Eastern Iowa native, Dubuque students in Paris during Notre Dame Cathedral fire

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Investigators on Tuesday were getting access to the Notre Dame cathedral after a fire ripped through the building Monday.

Construction crews were working on the building at the time of the fire.

France's president has said they will rebuild, but experts say it will take decades. Nearly everything wooden burned and engineers are now inspecting the cathedral for weaknesses.

People are already committing money to rebuild, from crowdsourcing online to the European Union and even a billionaire is offering millions.

This fire is touching everyone around the world.

Alex Intlekofer, a native of Cedar Rapids and a University of Iowa alum was on a work trip overseas and decided to take some vacation time in Paris.

He said he toured the cathedral before the fire Monday. Then, he went to go visit other sites in Paris. That's when he saw flames coming from the cathedral.

"It was definitely surreal. I was just completely shocked," he said. "I wasn't sure how to handle the situation. All the Parisians were grieving and definitely saddened by the event."

He said he went back to the cathedral the morning after the fire to see what was left.

"They had the police and the guards outside blocking it off to make sure no one was going in the area, he said. "There were groups of people praying and singing and grieving. I saw a lot of people crying and were deeply saddened."

He said it was like nothing he had ever seen before. He said the mood around in the area Tuesday was somber as people were reflecting on what happened.

Read the original version of this article at www.kcrg.com.