While the fire at Notre Dame was
being extinguished, the Internet was awash in conspiracy theories and one angle
that was considered was arson.
There have been a series of vandalism
and suspected arson attacks on French churches in recent weeks so it was not
surprising that people linked the fire cause to arson or terrorism.
Suspicions were further ignited when
a video circulated online showed a person in the balcony space of the two
towers of Notre Dame after the blaze had already started.
From the description of a video
uploaded to YouTube by Ola Anderson from a webcam, a flash on the roof of Notre
Dame was detected just before the fire:
“I looked at the stored timelapses
(each hour gets a one minute timelapse, one second is one minute) from the
webcam and found a shadow (person?) moving on the roof and a flash.”
Anderson then points out that it may
not even have been a time lapse on the webcam:
“The clip is marked 15/04 17:05 on
the webcam-site and the flash is at 23 seconds with some movement a couple of
seconds before. Meaning this is several minutes in real time.
“There might have been a person doing
something there about an hour before the fire started.”
People also doubted that the fire was
accidental because the workers and visitors already left the building that
In an interview, Benjamin Mouton,
former chief architect of Notre-Dame de Paris, expressed his surprise that the
fire had reached such magnitude, so quickly.
Mouton explained as follows:
“That the 800-year-old oak beams are
not fire prone and would need some form of combustion to catch fire. The church
had installed various fire alert measures, none of which seemingly functioned
on the day.”
Meanwhile, Paris Prosecutor Rémy
Heitz said that while the cause of the fire has not been established, it was
“Nothing shows that
it’s an intentional act” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.