2.55am Already awake (thank you, Manon) and hear an explosion. I assume it is a car backfiring although I am not awake enough to think that I have never heard a car backfiring from our bedroom before.
3am. Jack calls out and I find him in the hall. "Mama, I heard an explosion, I smell something burning and I can't sleep".
I ran to the window overlooking the street to see 2 firetrucks and numerous police cars outside our building. I assume we didn't hear the sirens as they are turned off when they reach their destination. The firemen were still hosing this car. Another two vehicles were also burnt. This car and the one beside it were from the Red Cross.
It was obviously distressing to have this happen on your doorstep but I felt quite upset when I saw fireman pull blankets from the car. This was a good car. This was a car helping people on the streets by giving them blankets. The other Red Cross car was an ambulance type. It had canisters of oxygen and apparently it was very lucky that they didn't explode. The third car (tiny car with a baby seat in it) was burnt when burning fuel ran down the gutter.
The commissaire de police believed that it was a deliberate attack against the Red Cross as Red Cross vehicles had been burnt in other French cities. Car burning is somewhat of a national sport in France but it is usually associated with outer suburbs and definitely not in central Paris. There was not one mention of the cars being burnt in any French press.
The white on the car roof is a light dusting of snow. The smell of burnt rubber lingered for many days.