New evidence points to power-lines as cause of catastrophic Maui fires
The devastating Maui wildfires that have tragically taken the lives of over 100 people so far has become the latest tragedy to take centre place in the world of conspiracy theories.
From Oprah to AI, harmful conspiracy theories about the devastating fires have been shared across social media as many speculate the cause of the fire, brushing off claims of climate change.
Land grab by Oprah Winfrey
Many on social media have accused billionaires such as Oprah, of orchestrating the fires in order to take valuable land from indigenous populations. Oprah became the centre of the conspiracy after she bought 2,000 acres on the island in March this year.
Whilst there are real concerns about indigenous people being pushed out of their land and facing housing shortages, there is no link to the fire, and no planned land grab. In fact, Oprah has been visiting and helping survivors in support shelter, and also promised to "make a major donation".
Space lasers and directed energy weapons
Some conspiracy theorists have gone so far to suggest that the fire is not a natural disaster or consequence from the climate crisis, but were started from space lasers or directed energy weapons (DEWS).
Twitter account known as 'CBKNEWS' tweeted a photo that looks like a light beam being shot at Hawaii with the caption: "This photo is circulating social media. Apparently this beam was captured before the Hawaii fires. Can anyone confirm?"
However many, including the community notes, pointed out that the photo was from 2019 and is of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force base.
Others think its an act of war from China and that a video from February of green lasers across the night sky was China mapping out where to start the fire. In reality, the lasers were emitted by a device onboard a NASA satellite.
Another component of the DEWS theory occurred after a video went viral on Twitter showing some trees seemingly standing strong whilst surrounded by burnt houses and cars. One Twitter account wrote: "This was a targeting attack against innocent Hawaiians."
In reality, some trees have the ability to withstand wildfires due to thermal insulation provided by their bark, dead leaves, or moist tissues. Trees that do catch fire are rarely completely destroyed, due in part to their water content.
'Smart Cities' and AI
Theorists have claimed that a conference was held in Maui in January to discuss making the island a "smart city", and that another summit due to take place next month is about using artificial intelligence to govern the island. Conspiracy theorists have argued that this proves the wildfires were deliberate as it allows these plans to materialise.
The truth is that an annual conference was hosted in Maui about emerging issues in the information technology system, not about turning Maui into a "smart island". The upcoming summit focuses on how governments across Hawaii can better adapt emerging technologies. The conference is also not taking place on Maui, but rather another Hawaiian island.
'Fire and Fury' Book
After a book called Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui Fire and its Implications for Climate Change by Dr. Miles Stones was found on Amazon it attracted a lot of attention, mainly because it was published two days after the fires began.
It seems that the book is made by AI and there is no information of a Dr. Miles Stones on the internet. But many have pointed to it as proof that the fires were deliberate and not a natural disaster.