The deadly wildfire that began on the Hawaiian island of Maui has claimed nearly 100 lives and hundreds are missing. While there is no sign of the wildfire stopping anytime soon, several claims have surfaced online with one being the wildfire was caused by a "direct energy weapon assault."
However, that is not true. There is no evidence that the wildfire was started by a "direct energy weapon assault." It's probable that natural factors, rather than a direct energy weapon, are responsible for the wildfires. However, the claim has gone viral and many have started believing in the conspiracy theory.
The claim first appeared in an Instagram post and video on Friday, August 11, 2023, titled: "PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!! NOT WILDFIRES " The post's caption reads: Climate change the next chess move to gain more control & depopulate @farmingcommunities101 @sunnywright456 #cityovgods.
Approximately 17 seconds into the video, the narrator shows an image that he claims is from "my friend in Hawaii," purportedly depicting a "laser beam coming out of the sky directly targeting the city."
The location mentioned is the town of Lahaina, situated on the western coast of Maui. Tragically, this historical community suffered significant destruction due to the fire.
However, the claim is completely bogus. First, the photograph presented in the video is not from Hawaii.
Instead, it originates from Canton Township, Ohio. The picture was captured in January 2018 by Travis Secrest.
Initially shared on the Facebook page of The Canton Repository on January 16, 2023, the image depicted a controlled burn at a Marathon oil refinery that illuminated the night sky. Here's how the image appeared on the social media platform:
Soon several social media users started posting photos of the same controlled burn from the refinery.
While the narrator may have mentioned it as a "direct energy weapon," the accurate term is "directed energy weapon," often abbreviated as DEW.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office website, directed energy weapons are defined as: "Directed energy weapons--such as lasers--use energy fired at the speed of light. These weapons can produce force that ranges from deterrent, to damaging, to destructive. Many countries, including the U.S., are researching their use.
Because they use energy instead of bullets or missiles, directed energy weapons could be less expensive per shot and have virtually unlimited firing power.
However, the long-term health effects of these weapons are unclear. They also generally have a shorter range than conventional weapons, and weather conditions--such as fog and storms--can make certain directed energy weapons less effective."
Moreover, the same conspiracy theory went viral during the California wildfires of 2021.
Another video, which went viral the same day making the same claim was shot five years ago in Kenner, Louisiana. This video displays a dramatic sequence of electrical explosions that occurred within the town, attributed to a malfunctioning power transformer.
In the reply posted on X (formerly Twitter) below, dated August 13, 2023, the caption claims, "Maui was attacked by directed energy weapons (DEWs)":
As reported by news outlets, a number of Kenner residents characterized the event as an "electric tornado."
As of now, Maui authorities have not provided a definitive explanation for the wildfires that occurred on the island in August 2023. However, it is widely believed that the wildfires were greatly influenced by the prevailing hot, dry, and windy weather conditions. Hence, the claim is completely false.