Maui wildfire conspiracies explained: From 'Oprah land grab' to ‘alien activity’ | World News - Hindustan Times

Maui wildfire conspiracies explained: From 'Oprah land grab' to ‘alien activity’

Aug 16, 2023 05:09 PM IST

Devastating Maui wildfires have spurred bizarre conspiracy theories, including land grab by Oprah to Space lasers, directed energy weapons, and smart city plots

The devastating Maui wildfires that swept through Lahaina, Hawaii, have not only left a trail of destruction but also sparked a wave of conspiracy theories that have taken social media by storm. As the flames scorched a 5-square-mile area and claimed at least 106 lives, some online voices have ventured into the realm of the bizarre, suggesting that elites, including Oprah who owns prime property on the island, might have orchestrated the inferno for their sinister agendas. But let's sift through the smoke and mirrors to separate fact from fiction.

FILE PHOTO: Fire damage is shown in the Wahikuli Terrace neighborhood in the fire ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii, U.S., August 15, 2023. (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: Fire damage is shown in the Wahikuli Terrace neighborhood in the fire ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii, U.S., August 15, 2023. (REUTERS)

Maui Conspiracy 1: Land Grab by Oprah Winfrey

Many TikTokers have been blaming billionaires like Oprah Winfrey for orchestrating the fires to grab valuable land in Maui from indigenous populations. The conspiracy is born from the idea that Oprah bought 2,000 acres on the island in March 2023. Soon after Ulupalakua Ranch sold two bigger properties, one around 520 acres and the other approximately 330 acres, to Winfrey's Los Angeles-based firm Harpo Inc. on February 10 for $3.89 million and $2.47 million, respectively. This theory feeds into real concerns about residents losing their homes and facing housing shortages.

While the conspiracy theorists suggest a planned land grab, there has been no link between her and the fire. In fact the celebrity has been seen visiting survivor camps to help those who have been affected. In response to the conspiracy theories and concerns about land grabs, Governor Josh Green called for a moratorium on property sales to prevent predatory practices.

Maui Conspiracy 2: Space Lasers

Several images circulating on social media claim to show space lasers destroying the Hawaiian city. Considering the magnitude of the devastation locals feel the phenomenon has to be linked to some extraterrestrial phenomenon.

Experts and fact-checkers, however, revealed that the images purportedly showing space lasers were unrelated events, like a controlled burn in Ohio and a SpaceX rocket launch in 2018. Moreover, the claim that elites used lasers to intentionally start the fire lacks any credible evidence.

Maui Conspiracy 3: Trees Surviving the Flames

A video showing trees still standing amidst the fire's aftermath has led to claims that the fires were not natural. However, experts explain that some trees can survive wildfires due to thermal insulation provided by their bark, dead leaves, or moist tissues. This phenomenon is not unusual and can be attributed to the trees' water content.

Maui Conspiracy 4: Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs)

Conspiracy theorists have suggested that directed energy weapons (DEWs) caused the fires.

Images and videos supposedly depicting these energy weapons in action were widely circulated. However, further investigation revealed that these images were misleading or unrelated. DEWs are electromagnetic systems, but the claims of their involvement lack credible proof.

Maui Conspiracy 5: The 'Smart City' Conundrum

Conspiracy theorists also suggest that the fires were orchestrated to clear the land for transforming Maui into a "smart city" controlled by artificial intelligence. This theory piggybacks on discussions surrounding a science conference and an upcoming summit related to smart cities. Attendees of the conference denied any sinister plot and emphasized that smart cities were merely a topic of discussion, not a secret agenda.

Also Read | Did power firm cause the Maui wildfire? Lahaina resident take Hawaiian Electric to court

Social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) have amplified these theories, leading experts to question the impact of misinformation and conspiracy culture. Verified accounts and unverified claims have mingled, with misleading images and videos spreading like wildfire.

In reality, the cause of the Maui wildfires remains under investigation, with officials attributing them to a combination of hurricane winds and drought conditions. While conspiracy theories might offer intriguing narratives, it's crucial to base conclusions on verified information and credible sources.

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