Claim that only ‘blue objects’ survived Chile wildfire is false

By: Rahul Adhikari
February 23 2024

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Claim that only ‘blue objects’ survived Chile wildfire is false

Social media posts claim that "blue objects" survied in the Chile wildfire. (Source: TikTok/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

Satellite images captured after the Chile wildfire disprove the "blue theory," as several blue-colored buildings and objects were visibly destroyed.

Claim ID 8e3fe429

What is the claim?

In the aftermath of the catastrophic wildfire in Chile that claimed at least 131 lives and damaged over 15,000 homes, a peculiar theory has emerged on social media, fueled by a viral video. This theory claims that objects painted blue miraculously survived the fires while everything else was obliterated.

The video, using the tagline "Blue clues Chile wildfire 2024 Coincidence?" juxtaposes clips of an untouched blue house amid ruins, a laser seemingly sparing blue fabric, and blue umbrellas standing amid destruction, suggesting the involvement of a "direct energy weapon."

A man provides commentary on these clips. Initially, he highlights a house, stating, "The house was barely touched; everything around it was demolished, burnt to ashes, yet somehow, it managed to remain standing." He then describes the video showing the laser's effect on differently colored clothes as "self-explanatory." Finally, regarding the clip with the umbrellas, he remarks, "That is a strange coincidence."

The video was shared by a user on TikTok, where it amassed over one million views, received more than 65,900 likes, and was shared 6,542 times. Several users posted similar videos, echoing the same claim. Links to the archived versions of these posts are available here and here.

Screenshots of the viral video. (Source: TikTok/Modified by Logically Facts)

The narrative, reminiscent of one from the 2023 Hawai’i wildfires, claims a correlation between the color blue and survival from wildfires, hinting at the use of direct energy weapons (DEWs). However, Logically Facts previously debunked this theory during the Maui wildfire, finding no supporting evidence for the claims or the technology's capability to instigate such disasters undetected.

However, contrary to these claims, satellite imagery and expert analysis reveal that blue objects were not spared by the Chile wildfire. 

Did blue buildings escape the Chile wildfires?

We found that Maxar Technologies, a space technology company, provided before-and-after footage showing blue buildings equally ravaged alongside others. This evidence disputes the notion that the wildfire discriminated by color.

We compared satellite images captured before the wildfire and those taken on February 5 and noted that several blue-colored buildings were reduced to ashes or were partially damaged. Further, while some blue buildings were utterly destroyed in an area by fire, buildings of various other colors near them survived, proving that the destruction caused by the wildfire was not guided by color.

A comparison of satellite images taken before and after the fires proves that blue buildings were also destroyed in Chile.

Comparison of the satellite images captured before and after the wildfire in Chile. (Source: Maxar Technologies/Modified by Logically Facts)


Comparison of the satellite images captured before and after the wildfire in Chile. (Source: Maxar Technologies/Modified by Logically Facts)


Comparison of the satellite images captured before and after the wildfire in Chile. (Source: Maxar Technologies/Modified by Logically Facts)

We also came across several images showing the damage caused by the wildfire. The images revealed that several blue-colored houses and pieces of infrastructure were indeed affected by the fire. On the other hand, we observed that buildings of different colors in several locations also remained unaffected by the fire.

The images show blue houses affected by the wildfire in Chile. (Source: Cristóbal Basaure A./ Adriana Thomasa (EFE)/Screenshot)

Several media organizations, including CBS News and The Weather Channel, published the satellite images captured before and after the Chile wildfire.

The clip of the blue house

The viral video's specific instances—such as the seemingly untouched blue house—are misleading. Upon closer inspection, other elements, such as a nearby wall and vegetation, also remained intact, indicating selective damage rather than color-based immunity.

Logically Facts contacted Peter B Sutherland, Professor of Fire Protection Engineering and Keystone Professor at the University of Maryland, who echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the random nature of wildfire damage and debunking the theory of color-based survival or weapon involvement. “Fires like the Maui fire often leave unburned items for no apparent reason. Fires are stochastic this way. The blue house got lucky, not because it was blue or some weapon of mass destruction was involved." 

Screenshots of the viral video showing objects that didn’t suffer any damage. (Source: TikTok/Modified by Logically Facts)

Professor Sutherland also sent us an image of a white-red house that was spared in the Maui fire. Media outlet The Independent also published a report on the same house that “miraculously” survived while others around it were completely burnt.

Screenshot of the image of the house that survived the Maui fire while all the other houses were burnt down. (Source: Honolulu Civil Beat/Screenshot)

The clip of laser burning cloth

A closer examination of the video's claims, particularly the supposed laser resistance of blue fabric, suggests possibilities of manipulation or misconceptions regarding how lasers interact with various materials. Experts, including Professor Sutherland, have stated unequivocally that no paint or material provides enhanced protection against lasers, effectively debunking the scientific premise of the theory.

"The laser's power might have been decreased when directed at the blue fabric, or the playback speed of the video could have been changed to give the illusion that the laser moves slowly over the blue fabric, whereas it moves quickly. There's also the possibility that the 'blue' fabric was a fire blanket modified to look blue. Or, the blue fabric might have a higher thermal conductivity, or there could be aluminum foil behind it, dissipating the heat before the fabric can ignite," Professor Sutherland said.

The photo of the blue umbrellas

Next, we discovered that the photograph featuring the blue umbrellas originated in August 2023 and has no connection to the Chile wildfire. This same photograph had previously circulated following the Maui wildfire, promoting the identical theory regarding blue objects.

At the time, Logically Facts had contacted David Lancaster, Director of the Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Labs at the University of South Australia. He clarified that no ordinary paints offer enhanced protection against lasers, explaining, "If the target material is painted or colored, it will vaporize quickly. Metals will reflect most of the light, whereas wood and plastics will absorb more."

The cause of the wildfires

The true catalyst behind the Chile wildfire is elevated temperatures, not DEW. Central Chile experiences strong summer winds resulting from compressed and heated air from the Andes Mountains. Climatologist Raul Cordero informed Reuters that the region was undergoing a heatwave, likely due to climate change and the El Niño phenomenon. According to scientists, a prolonged, 15-year devastating drought that desiccated vegetation also contributed to exacerbating the situation and fueling the wildfire.

The verdict

The viral claim that only blue objects withstood the Chile wildfire is unfounded. Comprehensive analysis and expert insights affirm that the wildfire's destruction was indiscriminate of color. We have thus marked this claim as false.

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