A shocking claim swiftly spreading online said the United States intentionally set the Hawaiian blaze, but on a closer look, the information appears to debunk itself.
The source of it comes from China, according to the New York Times.
The wildfires tore through Maui in early August.
“everything was burning around, explosions, cars blowing up, embers just flying,” Vixay Phonxaylinkham, a Maui wildfires survivor, said.
The devastating blaze is considered among the country’s deadliest disasters. Killing at least 97 people.
First, the accusation cited a so-called “explosive new report” from Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6.
The so-called report claims the U.S. military started the deadly fire in Maui during a secret “weather weapon” test.
It adds that with this “weapon,” the U.S. military can cause floods, volcanic eruptions, and extreme storms to damage its, quote: “enemies.”
The message has spread across a dozen major platforms: From mainstream Chinese media to Facebook, YouTube, and X—formerly Twitter.
The statement also appears to contradict itself.
A Chinese post in August asserted that MI6 identified the Maui wildfire’s so-called source after “months of investigation.”
Yet that fire broke out just 16 days before the article was published.
There’s no evidence the U.S. military is developing a “weapon” that summons fire or floods.
A Hawaiian electric utility has acknowledged its power lines started the first fire on Maui.
It’s not the first time Beijing has used disinformation to target Americans.
In July, a cybersecurity firm found over 70 fake news websites and social media accounts spreading political messaging from Beijing.
The campaign also allegedly staged two in-person protests in Washington and put up a pro-Beijing billboard in Times Square.