False rumors of Eiffel Tower fire spread online

Footage viewed millions of times on social media appears to show the Eiffel Tower, in the heart of Paris, France, on fire. But this is false; the images were created using visual effects (VFX) and do not show real events.

"Eiffel Tower Fire..." says text over a January 21, 2024 TikTok post with more than 8.3 million views.

<span>Screenshot of a TikTok taken January 24, 2024</span>
Screenshot of a TikTok taken January 24, 2024

Similar posts showing the iconic wrought iron structure spread across platforms including Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter, causing an outpouring of comments online.

However, a reverse image search found that the same video used in the TikTok was posted to YouTube on July 18, 2023, by the user @Augmented_One with the caption: "Eiffel Tower burning VFX."

In response to the confusion surrounding the video, the user added additional clarification in a January 24, 2024 comment saying: "To all the viewers, this is VFX (visual effects)." VFX refers to digital enhancements to live-action video and is frequently used by filmmakers.

Although some iterations of the claim use different images, these posts also feature pictures and videos that have been digitally altered. Live feeds of the Eiffel Tower showed on January 24 that it remains standing with no sign of flames or fire damage (archived here).

<span>Screenshot of a Facebook post taken January 24, 2024</span>
Screenshot of a Facebook post taken January 24, 2024
<span>Screenshot of an X post taken January 24, 2024</span>
Screenshot of an X post taken January 24, 2024

Alexis Orsini, an AFP journalist based in Paris, also photographed the tower on January 24, between 5:42 and 5:46 PM CET, finding it unharmed.

<span>Photos of the Eiffel Tower taken January 24, 2024</span><div><span>Alexis ORSINI</span></div>
Photos of the Eiffel Tower taken January 24, 2024

The purported incident was not covered by any credible news organizations. Additionally, there have been no press statements or social media posts acknowledging a fire at the historical landmark by tower officials, the City of Paris, or the Paris Fire Brigade.

The latest post on the Eiffel Tower's official X page was shared on January 23, 2024, promoting some of the spot's tourist attractions and encouraging people to visit (archived here).

AFP contacted the company that operates the monument, which confirmed there was no fire. 

Since it was built, the iconic tower has often been the target of urban legends and rumours (archived here). 

January 26, 2024 This article was updated to add a link to a TikTok post.