The Fire Poltergeist of Paris
In the otherwise quiet Paris suburb of La Corneuve, thirty mysterious fires broke out in the space of less than a week. Two houses were gutted, and several outbuildings were completely destroyed. While the first fire was be blamed on a lightning strike, the ones that followed were unexplainable.
The series of fires began on Wednesday, September 11 when a bolt of lightning struck a house on Rue de I'Abreuvoir. The house caught fire, but fortunately the flames were quickly extinguished and there were no signs of lingering sparks or flames.
But the following day more fires sprang up. Two detached sheds were burned to the ground and the home of a neighbor, 150 feet away caught fire. On Friday, the fires manifested yet again. This time, flames suddenly appeared in the basement of the first home that had been affected.
Things got even stranger on Saturday. A neighbor, Monsieur Scillier, walked into his dining room to find a loaf of bread on the table alight and blazing away. As the man watched, stunned, the table itself caught fire, then flames shot out from a nearby cupboard, not once, but twice.
Officials investigated the fires on each occasion, but despite a thorough inspection of the buildings, no explanation could be found for the weird fires.
People were begging to talk about the supernatural incidents and what could be causing them. Was a poltergeist at work? One fascinated with the use of fire?
Whatever was causing the blazes, it wasn’t quite finished. On both Sunday and Monday, random fires continued to plague the area. At one point, flames shot back and forth between the two houses. A box of knives lit up and burned until nothing was left but the metal blades.
In another incident, twenty-five witnesses watched as an umbrella suddenly caught fire and burned away. Again, there was no apparent source and nothing to explain the sudden fire.
The atmosphere was tense. Fires were a great concern for the time since the wooden buildings of the era could go be lost quickly in a raging blaze. An out of control fire could spread quickly and do a massive amount of damage to the city so the fear people were voicing was understandable.
Unexplained fires were even more frightening since people had no idea what to watch for or how to protect themselves, and, if the culprit was supernatural in nature, then what? Fire officials were quick to respond to the strange blazes, but while they were on the scene with each incident, they were still at a loss to explain the random fires.
The cases seemed to become more bizarre with each day. A fireman working at the location of one of the incidents was busy removing items he thought were potential combustibles. He picked up an old hat and tossed it out an open window. As the hat sailed across the room and through the window, it brushed by the curtains. Both the hat and the curtains suddenly burst into flames.
By Tuesday, the frequency of the random fires finally began to decrease. Only one fire was reported that day, one that sprang up in a garden between the two buildings.
Plenty of damage had been done. Two homes, and their outbuildings, had been the main locations affected by the mysterious fires. By this time, they had been mostly destroyed by all the blazes.
A report in the newspaper Paris Matin stated:
"The staircases in both houses are crumbling into dust. A bright crystalline dust comes from them at the slightest contact."
While it's clear the first blaze was initiated by a lightning strike; authorities were positive that fire had been extinguished. The 29 fires that followed remain a mystery and many people in the area were left believing that a troublesome poltergeist had been responsible for the destruction.
Whatever the case, the mystery of the Paris Fire poltergeist remains unsolved to this day.