Old footage of power line explosion in US does not show Maui fires starting

22 August 2023
What was claimed

Footage shows directed energy weapons which were used to start fires in Maui.

Our verdict

The footage actually shows an explosion along a power line in Louisiana, US, in 2018. There’s no evidence that directed energy weapons started fires in Maui.

Social media posts are falsely connecting old footage from Louisiana, US, to directed energy weapons and recent fires on the Hawaiian island of Maui. 

The posts suggest blurry footage showing sparks and explosions near a traffic junction is evidence of directed energy weapons, which they claim started the fires in Maui. One post claims the video was sent directly from residents of Maui. 

As we have written before, directed energy weapons are systems that use technologies such as lasers and other electromagnetic energy in order to cause disruptive, damaging or destructive effects on equipment or facilities. They are currently being researched by a number of countries, including the UK and the US. 

However, this footage does not show directed energy weapons nor was it taken in Maui. It shows explosions along a power line in Kenner, Louisiana, on 27 December 2018. There are many videos of the incident available online. 

One video reportedly records the incident from inside a branch of the restaurant chain IHOP and specifies the location to be Williams Boulevard. A Google Maps search shows this restaurant is next to both a Shell and Exxon petrol station, which are visible in other videos of the incident.

Several posts, which appear on both Facebook and Twitter, link to a longer 20 minute video compilation. While we have not verified every clip in the compilation, the thumbnail comes from the Louisiana footage and has the caption: “Actual footage of a directed energy attack like what was used in Maui Hawaii”. Titles over the Louisiana footage describe it as “incredible footage of a directed energy weapon attack” and encourages viewers to “watch the beam zapping all in its path”. 

Another post shares the footage and falsely claims it shows “what actually brought down the twin towers. DEWS. Directed Energy Weapons”. We’ve written about many false claims relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including that the attacks were scripted, that home footage shows no planes were used and that the World Trade Center 7 collapsed for "no apparent reason"

At the time of writing, the wildfires in Maui are reported to have killed more than 100 people with more than 850 people estimated to be missing. While a single cause of the fire has not yet been determined, the US National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the island, indicating that conditions such as high winds, low humidity, dry vegetation and a lack of rainfall could produce an increased risk of dangerous fires. 

There have been some suggestions that active power lines brought down by strong winds could have sparked the blazes, but this has not been confirmed. As we have written before, there’s no evidence that directed energy weapons were used to start the fires. 

Full Fact has written about similar false claims relating to the wildfires in Maui, including that other photos and videos show directed energy weapons and explosions. It’s important to check whether social media images and videos show what the post says they do before you share them—we have written a guide on how to do so here and here.

Misinformation often spreads quickly during major global stories. We have written about a number of false claims relating to riots in France, the February earthquake in Turkey and Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Image courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Hawai’i Pacific District 14

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