At least three viral images that appear to show laser beams have spread across social media as purported evidence of the Maui fire’s origins.
Wildfires swept west of Maui, an island in Hawaii, on August 8 and 9. destroy the historic town of Lahaina and devastated many other communities on the island. It was The deadliest wildfire in the US in more than a century with more than 111 dead as of August 18, but rescue efforts continue so the death toll is expected to rise.
The The exact cause of the Lahaina fire is unknown, despite the high fire risk due to the dry conditions on the island. Uncertainty has fueled a number of conspiracy theories.
One of the most popular theories is that the fire started as a result of an attack from a direct energy weapon. There are at least three viral images of what appears to be a laser beam that people have shared as “evidence” of these purported directed energy weapons.
An image that appears to show an orange laser beam over an explosion has been viewed millions of times on X, formerly known as Twitter, and also went viral in a video posted on Instagram. Other popular articles appear to show a Thin laser beam shoots directly down at a forested area with smoke around its base. There’s more viral video intended to display a direct energy weapon that appears to reveal a downward laser beam at an incident angle crashed into a building in a crowded town.
Do these three viral posts present evidence that directed-energy weapons caused the Maui wildfires?
No, the three viral images show no evidence that directed-energy weapons caused the wildfires in Maui. All three are older images taken in different locations, and none of the images show direct energy weapons.
WHAT WE FIND
All three images predate the Maui wildfire, which began in August 2023. No image or video was taken of Maui or any of the Hawaiian islands, and none of the images or videos show it. direct energy weapons.
Directional energy weapons are real, and US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said many countries are studying their use. The GAO says lasers can be thought of as directed energy weapons. However, all three pieces of viral communication had a documented cause, none of which were caused by lasers or any other directed energy weapon.
The first photolow quality image of the orange fireball at the bottom of what appears to be an orange beam, can be traced back to an image posted to Facebook in January 2018. It was posted in response to a local Canton, Ohio, newspaper photo request of a controlled burn at Marathon’s Canton Refinery on the night of January 16.
Comments to the newspaper’s claim included multiple photographs of the fire that looked similar to the one currently being used as “evidence” of direct-energy weapons used in Maui. For example, this picture, this picture And this picture of the same controlled burn event showed what appeared to be an orange flame at the bottom of the faint laser beam.
Another image of what appears to be a similar controlled burn was used in this photo. Cleveland-based news station article from January 2018 about the “light column” or “sun dog” popular during the winter in northeastern Ohio. The National Weather Service explains that “solar columns” are created when light crystals slowly fall through the air and reflect the sun’s rays from them. They usually occur when the sun is near the horizon – like where there’s a bright burn on the ground.
The other photoshowing a thin laser beam with smoke around the base, actually a time lapse photo on May 22, 2018 of a SpaceX rocket launch posted X, Instagram And Flickr. SpaceX says the rocket has launched from Californianot Maui.
Fast-forward photos of rocket launches sometimes show the “beam” created by stitching together multiple shots of the flame emanating from the rocket’s propulsion. You can see an example here March 2012 NASA photo.
The viral video of the “laser beam” hitting the residential area is actually the word This viral TikTok recorded and posted on May 25, 2023, two months before the Maui fires started. The supposed version of Maui is mirrored and enlarged, with the sound of the explosion edited at the beginning of the video.
According to TikTok’s original description, it was taken in Macul, Chile; At that time, the person filming the video lost power in their apartment and heard an explosion. ONE Chilean news station ran a segment on the video in which it explained that the video showed the explosion of a transformer.
“The transformer explosion caused by strong winds this week was captured by a video that went viral on social media,” CHV Noticias wrote in Spanish in the description of the clip posted to YouTube. “An optical effect makes it look like a strange light is creating an explosion. Theories arose and what actually happened in the following note.
Humberto Verdejo, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Santiago de Chile, told CHV Noticias that windy weather was likely to cause tree branches to hit electrical equipment suspended on the ground, causing an explosion. The reporter said the streak of light from the sky is likely due to reflection in the camera.
Via watch video frame by frame, you can see the flash from the explosion appearing before the beam. In 447 . frame, no flash, explosion or light beam. In 448 . frame, a flash of light appeared just below the roof of a large building in the center of the screen. In frame 449the explosion becomes larger and the beam appears.
The same person who posted the original TikTok then posted a slow version of the video which also shows that the explosion started before the “laser”.
There were four wildfires that Maui County said were first reported on August 8: the Lahaina fire, the Olinda and Kula fires (previously lumped together as the Upcountry fires), and the Kihei fires. All four are active, but at least 80% contained since the county’s August 17 update.
Security camera footage posted Instagram of Maui . Bird Sanctuary seems to indicate the origin of the Olinda fire. The footage depicts a flash of light in the woods on the night of August 7, which a spokesperson for the video said was likely the moment a tree fell onto power lines. this is first fire reported among four peoplebased on updated Maui County news.
The causes of the remaining fires are still under investigation, but reports from the day they started suggest they may be related to power lines that were downed by Hurricane Dora’s high winds.
When Maui Quận County Lahaina fire report was 100% under control on the morning of August 8 (an outbreak later that afternoon turned into a fire that consumed Lahaina), the county reported that Hawaiian Electric was responding to a downed power line. in the area and high winds from Hurricane Dora added fuel to the fire.
Between fire containment in the morning and outbreak in the afternoon, Maui . County reminding people to be careful because “strong winds are causing dangerous conditions with downed power lines and trees.” Wind gusts ranged between 40 mph and 60 mph over much of Maui that day, National Weather Service speak. This island is also under a red flag warningissued when severe fire conditions are expected due to prolonged dry weather and high winds caused by nearby Hurricane Dora.
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