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 day.
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 likely “accidental.”
“Nothing shows that it’s an intentional act” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.