Old video of mulch fire in Cleveland passed off as visuals of wildfires in Hawaii and California

By: Umme Kulsum
August 18 2023

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Old video of mulch fire in Cleveland passed off as visuals of wildfires in Hawaii and California


The Verdict False

This video is from Cleveland, Ohio, where spot fires broke out in 2022. The video has nothing to do with the recent wildfires in the United States.

Claim ID 85dcffb7


As the search for survivors in Maui, Hawaii (locally spelled Hawai'i) continues after a deadly wildfire that began on August 8, social media users have been sharing a video showing mulch fires with a claim that the visuals are from Hawaii. Some social media users have also claimed that the video is from California, where wildfire events have led to the announcement of evacuation orders.

The widely shared video shows people watching and recording as strong winds carry flames across a street. One post on X (formerly Twitter) shared the video with the caption, "Have you ever seen fire crawl across and burn the pavement? I've been around many California wildfires, and I've not see this effect." The post had amassed 1.9 million views with over 6,500 reshares at the time of publishing.

"BREAKING: Jaw-Dropping Hawaii Video - Fire Gets Blown Across the Street!" read another X post with multiple Hawaii-related hashtags. This post had more than 508,000 views.

Screengrab of the claim. (Source: X/@Empirical_Eye, @WillingWitness | Altered by Logically Facts)

This viral video, however, is neither from Hawaii nor California.

 In fact

Analysis of the video's keyframes led us to similar footage and a story published by local news outlet Cleveland 19 on June 18, 2022. The story included a video report which showed the same 'The Flats' signboard (around the 1:04 timestamp) as seen in the viral clip. According to the report, about 20 "spot fires" broke out near Cleveland's Flats neighborhood, setting several construction barrels ablaze. However, no injuries were reported in the incident.

Screengrab of the report by Cleveland 19

Visuals from the viral clip can also be seen in a video titled Mulch Fire in Cleveland, posted on YouTube by Envista Forensics on July 27, 2022. Another YouTube account, I'm From Cleveland, also shared a video with some of the visuals from the viral clip on June 18, 2022. The video title read, "The Flats On Fire In Cleveland, Ohio (June 18, 2022)." 

A comparison of a screengrab from the viral video and a video uploaded in 2022 (Source: X/WillingWitness, YouTube/@imfromcleveland)

In a report on June 18, 2022, News 5 Cleveland, an Ohio-based television station, also covered the mulch fires in Cleveland's Flats. Logically Facts geolocated Cleveland's Flats on Google Earth using visuals from the news reports. The signboard displaying the text "The Flats" seen in the viral video was also visible on Google Street view of the Flats neighborhood.

A comparison of Google Street View of Cleveland's Flats neighborhood and visuals in the viral clip. (Source: Google Earth, X/WillingWitness)

The verdict

Old footage from Cleveland's Flats neighborhood has been shared with the false claims that it shows the visuals of wildfires in Hawaii or California. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before