There are some videos online that appear to show flashes of light on top of notre dame cathedral prior to the fire.


However, the roof of the structure was metal.

Does this video show someone starting the fire?

  • 6
    @F1Krazy: Not all metals are the same. As happens, the roof of Notre Dame was sheathed in lead. Lead doesn't spark if you strike it. Copper and bronze don't spark, either. They will spark if subject to high electrical current.
    – JRE
    Apr 22, 2019 at 8:07
  • 5
    If that video is real, the sparks aren't occuring on the roof itself. They only appear where the moving black blob "bad actor" is. The implication being that a person is lighting the fire. Could as well be a worker sneaking a smoke (lighting a cigarrette) or something on his clothes reflecting sunlight. The video has been compressed to the point that all details are gone.
    – JRE
    Apr 22, 2019 at 8:12
  • 1
    Yes indeed. and if that video was released in it's completeness, from the spark up to the moment of flame, I think it would be a famous video and people would take it seriously. If it's a mysterious clip with no clear date, source or author, people will think it's fake news. Apr 22, 2019 at 9:00
  • 1
    I do suspect that the fire was somehow due to the construction work going on in the attic, and it may well be that someone is aware of the cause and has not yet come forward. But it seems highly unlikely some malicious intent was present -- more likely a pure accident of some sort. Apr 22, 2019 at 17:40
  • 2
    As an aside, the main source (stopmensonges.com) contains other claims such as vitamin C curing cancer or that the moon is hollow and an artificial structure. I'm not sure one should consider that articles from this site are relevant and/or well researched. Also, the article beneath the video never claims the roof structure was metallic (it wasn't), only that 800 year old oaken beams cannot be lighten up easily in less than 30 minutes.
    – Aserre
    Apr 23, 2019 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


The video in question comes from this webcam: Viewsurf: Cathédrale Notre Dame. This webcam only takes one 60-second video every hour, at 5 minutes after the hour (17:05, 18:05 etc). Here's a Youtube video which shows snippets recorded at 17:05, 18:05, 19:05 etc.: Viewsurf Notre Dame Webcam: 20190415 - 17:05 to 21:05. The flash occurs at 0:23. It's pretty hard to notice; you have to know where to look (somewhere where those small spikes end).

Now, this video shows that the flash occurred at 17:05, and as per Wikipedia, the fire started at 18:50 (which this video confirms because you can see that there's no fire at 18:05 and then there's fire at 19:05).

What I find strange about this is that it would take almost 2 hours for the fire to become noticeable to anybody, if we assume that the flash was actually the very start of the fire. I'm no fire expert, but it just seems too much time for the fire to develop (in the video even at 18:05, i.e. one hour after the flash, there's still nothing visible).

Therefore I'd bet that was most likely a reflection from the sun. This is also corroborated by the fact that the sun is behind our back in that video (not so visible at 17:05, but look at the shadows of the spikes at 18:05. It seems the shadows are moving from left to right). A more precise determination of the webcam position and the position of the sun at 17:05 would probably confirm that.

  • Thank you, that's a very informed answer. A fire can only develop 2 hours after if a floating candle was left on a bottle of fuel or something like that. It wouldn't be contiguous with the video. Apr 24, 2019 at 16:47
  • 2
    Under the right conditions, a fire can smoulder for hours or even months before flaring up. That said, I don't know if the Notre Dame roof has the right conditions for hours of smouldering, and it certainly doesn't have the ones needed for months.
    – Mark
    Apr 29, 2019 at 23:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .