By: Ankita Kulkarni
August 18 2023
The viral video dates back to 2018 and shows electrical explosions in Kenner, Louisiana. It is unrelated to the Maui wildfires.
A series of wildfires that broke out in Maui, an island in the U.S. state of Hawaii (spelled Hawai'i by locals), has killed at least 110 people, and more than 1,000 are estimated to be missing, according to a BBC report. Social media has been flooded with false and misleading claims about the disaster. One such post on X (formerly Twitter) shared a video that shows a bright light at a distance and claimed that it shows "Maui was attacked by directed energy weapons." The post had over 23,000 views at the time of publishing. Another post, in Spanish, sharing the video with the same narrative, had over 319,000 views. The archive posts can be found here and here.
However, the video is not from Maui and dates back to 2018.
Research showed us that the video is not from Hawaii at all but shows a series of electrical explosions in Kenner, Louisiana, in the U.S. Analysis of a screenshot taken from the viral clip led us to a YouTube video posted by Lousiana-based television station WWLTV on December 27, 2018. The caption reads, "Electrical explosion, sparks light up Kenner sky." The YouTube video shows the same visuals as the viral clip from the 0:35 timestamp.
We also found a report by WWLTV, a CBS affiliate, which noted that the power poles caught fire as heavy winds swept the area. However, the exact reason behind the explosion was unclear. It added that electrical blasts were reported in parts of Williams Boulevard, West Esplanade Avenue, and 24th Street, resulting in power outages.
A report published on December 27, 2018, by WDSU, a local news channel in Louisiana affiliated with NBC News, also said that Kenner witnessed electric explosions. It also included a video from inside a business store that showed a transformer exploding and poles catching fire.
Another video report by WWLTV on December 28, 2018, also detailed the power outage in Kenner and included the same visuals, which can be viewed at the 0:42 timestamp. The report added that Giovanni Bommarito captured the video.
YouTube video showing the explosions in 2018
The above evidence establishes that the video shows transformers exploding, not a "directed energy weapon attack" on Maui that is falsely claimed to have started wildfires.
Directed energy weapons (DEWs), such as lasers, are highly-focused ammunition that can potentially cause a lot of damage and destruction. Additionally, what exactly caused the wildfires in Maui has not been officially determined, but drought, low humidity, and high winds are stated to have played a significant role in the disaster. However, according to a Washington Post report, a knocked down powerline could have caused the first reported fire in the area.
A video of electric explosions captured in Kenner City, U.S., 2018 has been falsely shared as proof that DEWs caused Maui wildfires. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.