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 and while the first fire could 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 sings of lingering sparks or flames.
On Friday, the fires manifested again. This time, flames suddenly appeared in the basement of the first home.
But things got even stranger on Saturday. A neighbor, Monsieur Scillier, walked into his dining room to find a loaf of bread on the table blazing away. The table itself then caught on fire. In a nearby cupboard, flames suddenly shot up not once, but twice.
Was a poltergeist at work? One fascinated with the use of fire?
No sources for the sudden outburst of fires could be found.
On Sunday and Monday, the random blazes continued to plague the area. Flames shot back and forth between the two houses. A box of knives burned until nothing but the blades remained.
Twenty five witnesses watched as an umbrella suddenly caught fire and burned up.
Fires, especially unexplained ones, were a great concern for the time. An out of control blaze could spread quickly and do a massive amount of damage. This being the case, fire officials were quick to respond to the strange blazes, but while they were on the scene, they were still at a loss to explain the random blazes. A fireman working at the location 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 through the window, it brushed by the curtains. Both the hat and the curtains burst into flames.
By Tuesday, the frequency of the random fires finally decreased. Only one fire was reported and it sprang up in a garden between the buildings.
But much damage had been done. Both of the main homes that were affected had, by this time, been mostly destroyed.
A newspaper report in the 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 that 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 were left believing that a troublesome poltergeist had been responsible for the destruction.