A 22-year-old neighbour told Le Parisien newspaper that his girlfriend had asked the woman to turn down her music late on Monday, prompting a flurry of insults that led them to call the police.
Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said the fire began on the second floor of the building. According to the Associated Press, the woman has a history of mental health problems.
The blaze originated on the floor that the suspect and firefighter shared. One neighbor recalled clambering out of her eighth-floor apartment and over balconies to reach safety.
Survivors scrambled on to surrounding roofs to escape the smoke and flames, and had to be rescued by fire crews. "I can't forgive myself", he said in an interview with French radio station France Info.
Street resident Jacqueline Ravier described seeing a young man blackened by smoke and a woman motionless on the ground.
Firefighters said the building's courtyard acted as a funnel, helping the flames to spread from the lower to the upper floors.
"I want to salute the huge mobilization of the Paris firefighters", he said.
About 50 people were safely rescued from the building in western Paris.
At least thirty were injured, including one seriously.
Emmanuel Gregoire, an official with the city government, said the victims were residents.
The death toll in the Paris building fire has risen to eight. Some were hoisted down on ropes and at least one person abseiled to safety.
Though the fire was extinguished before dawn, Cognon said firefighters are still going door to door to ensure there are no more victims and prevent residual fires.
"When we arrived, we were faced with an apocalyptic situation".
French television showed video of flames emerging from windows of the building.
Firefighters are seen near a building that caught fire in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, on February 5, 2019.
It broke out at a residential building in the French capital overnight.
More than 200 firefighters and emergency workers are on the scene, Paris police said, and the street is blocked off. People in neighboring buildings were also evacuated.
"France wakes up in emotion after the fire.in Paris tonight".