Fact Check: Hawaii Wildfire Was NOT Caused By A Laser Beam From A Space Satellite

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Hawaii Wildfire Was NOT Caused By A Laser Beam From A Space Satellite No Laser

Was the raging fire that incinerated the census-designated place (CDP) of Lahaina in Maui County, Hawaii, ignited by a laser beam from a satellite? No, that's not true. On August 21, 2023, The New York Times stated that the fire which resulted in the destruction of properties, including offices, residences, and vehicles, along with the evacuation of thousands and the tragic loss of countless lives, cannot be attributed to a single cause. It was emphasized that experts speculated on one potential scenario: the ignition of the August 8, 2023 wildfire that engulfed Lahaina could have been sparked by active power lines collapsing in strong winds. Brush fires were already ablaze on both Maui and the island of Hawaii on August 8, 2023.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) and was posted on TikTok on Aug. 15, 2023, under the title "A small drone or a space satellite equipped with a laser weapon can do a lot (of damage)."

It opened:

Can a laser (beam) cause property damage from a satellite in the space? Let's say on a small island in the Pacific (Ocean), Hawaii.

A caption across the 40-second video in Arabic, which was translated into English by Lead Stories, maintained:

There are thousands of satellites swimming around the Earth. And, we should not forget the flock of Star Link satellites launched recently by the company, SpaceX, which are roaming the world and many of us have seen.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Maui wildfires.jpg

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Aug 21 09:32:26 2023 UTC)

Following the post on August 15, 2023, several other bizarre video claims inundated social media platforms, particularly TikTok. While one video claimed the Hawaii wildfire was the result of divine intercession because the CDP of Lahaina was allegedly "being planned as a capital for homosexuals", another video alleged that a laser weapon was used in Lahaina to test the viability of artificial intelligence in controlling islands worldwide. All videos, however, had one common conspiracy theory: the Hawaii wildfires were "engineered".

In two separate articles on August 14 and August 16, 2023, Lead Stories already debunked the claim that a laser weapon was used to start the wildfires in Hawaii island on August 8, 2023.

The digital news outlet, Quint, also dismissed the claim in a fact check report on Aug. 16, 2023, pointing out that the allegation stemmed from "conspiracy theories about 'directed energy weapons', suggesting that the wildfires are caused by laser weapons and are not naturally-occurring".

According to a report from Reuters, scientists said the disaster was decades in the making. The in-depth analysis of the fire shows that the vast-scale devastation was brought about by a combination of factors.

The BBC also reported, that extremely strong winds from Hurricane Dora passed south of Hawaii and stirred up the flames in the area of Lahaina, a popular tourist attraction and home to nearly 13,000 inhabitants. The Mayor of Maui Beach revealed an updated death toll on Aug. 21, 2023, saying it stood at 116 so far and noted that there are 850 people who went missing in the fires.

Time also reported the same day that although the reason behind the wildfire is still not clear, the devastation was caused by "a mix of high temperatures, strong winds from a Category 4 storm near the islands, and drought conditions that dried out grasses on the island."

CNN said that a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that Maui's devastating wildfires were caused by Hawaiian Electric Industries' energized power lines that were knocked down by strong winds. Hawaiian Electric Industries said that power was not cut off because special consideration was given to certain services in the prevailing emergency condition, such as the need for power to fill out water used by firefighters.

Despite the devastation left by the wildfires in Hawaii and other countries worldwide, a TikToker with a stretched imagination said: "What is needed now is an explosion at a nuclear reactor."

@sultan_klaib #حشد #مقتدى_الوطن #مقتدى_الصدرأعزه_الله #الطاقة #العاصمةالاداريةالجديده #الطاقة #كورونا_اميركيا #الاسطول #كمامة_كورونا_فايروس #مفاعل_نووي #مفاعل_تشيرنوبل #مفاعل_ديمونة ♬ الصوت الأصلي - رجل فكره سابق زمانه

  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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