Space lasers, land grabs by celebrities and still standing trees are all being used as ridiculous conspiracy theories online to explain what caused the Maui wildfires to ignite and kill more than 100 people.
Five-year-old pictures are being shared across social media as proof that the government used ‘direct energy weapons,’ like lasers, to intentionally start the wildfires that excoriated parts of Maui last week.
While others claim images of trees standing among the rubble are proof the disaster was not natural. A few even claim the fires were started as a land grab by celebrities or the government.
While the theories have been debunked, they are still spreading across the internet.
Hawaiian officials have said they do not yet know exactly what caused the wildfires that razed the seaside town of Lahaina. Dry conditions on Maui, in addition to low humidity and high winds created ideal conditions for a wildfire to spread.
Lawsuits have been filed stating that downed power lines, left with electricity flowing, sparked the blaze.
A 2018 picture of a controlled burn at an Ohio Marathon Oil factory has been used by internet conspiracy theorists to promote the idea that the government shot space lasers onto Maui to start the deadly wildfire
Another picture that is being used to promote the conspiracy is this time lapse shot of a 2018 SpaceX launch, that appears to have been lifted straight from the company’s Instagram page
In one video posted to Instagram last week, a narrator says the fires were caused by a ‘direct energy weapon assault.’
‘PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!! NOT WILDFIRES,’ the video is captioned.
However, experts debunked photos shared on social media of the ‘lasers’ as photos from other events years ago.
The narrator of the Instagram video said a friend of his in Hawaii sent him a picture that ‘shows a laser beam coming out of the sky directly targeting the city.’
He then makes reference to a government weather modification program he said sprays highly flammable chemicals into the sky – no such program is known to exist.
Multiple social media posts that use the same image make similar claims about a laser beam sparking the Hawaii fires.
The photo, in reality, is believed to have come from a controlled burn in January of 2018 at a Marathon Oil refinery in Canton, Ohio.
The same image, which shows a streak of light and fire on the ground, has previously been used to claim a meteor landed in Michigan and ignited a fire. It was also used to claim that a UFO had been shot down, or a missile struck the US.
A second dramatic laser picture shows a direct beam of light dropping through a clear blue sky and apparently setting ablaze a portion of oceanfront land.
That image, however, also from 2018, is a time lapse photo of a SpaceX rocket launch that appeared to have been taken directly from the company’s Instagram page.
The images have been used to bolster online theories that the fires were set by the government as a way of pushing indigenous Hawaiians off of Maui – which would give the government room for its plethora of suspect projects.
Journalism watchdog Poynter quickly shot down the reports of the lasers and posted its own video on social media.
In the video, the organization described the origins of the circulated photos of the supposed space laser.
The group labeled the claims blatantly ‘false.’
Other conspiracy theorists widely available claimed that images of trees still standing after the fire are proof that the fires were not natural.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Everything is burnt but the trees, but don’t point that out or ur a conspiracy theorist.’
Online truth seekers, however, were quick to point out the flaw in the logic of the argument.
‘Some plants are able to survive wildfires due to a layer of thermal insulation provided by their bark, dead leaves, or moist tissues,’ read a Britannica article linked to by some commenters.
Hawaiian officials are not yet certain what caused the deadly wildfires, but say the dry conditions and high winds created a perfect environment for the fires to spread rapidly
The fire destroyed virtually all of the seaside town of Lahaina
Oprah Winfrey’s estate is seen on March 16, 2004 in Kula, Hawaii. Some claim she and other celebrities are behind the fires in a land grab
Other knee-jerk reaction theories about the fire have included claims that Oprah and Jeff Bezos – both Maui property owners – BlackRock, and real estate companies in general committed mass arson in an effort to free up the seaside land for themselves.
They claims the fires were down to drive out locals and keep the land for themselves.
Others say the government started the fires to drive out indigenous residents and create an AI-run smart city.
Some of that narrative is predicated on a conference that was held in Maui in January, during which smart cities were discussed.
‘The same man who narrated the space-laser video explained in a separate post: ‘What they don’t talk about is in January how they had in Maui a smart city conference to turn Maui into an entire smart island, changing everything to electric, renewables, solar panels and pushing everybody into electric vehicles – 15-minute smart cities.’