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May 19, 2024 4:03 pm

Is Hawaii’s Wildfire Conspiracy Theory Sparking ’15-Minute Smart Cities

In the wake of devastating wildfires in Hawaii, conspiracy theories have arisen, alleging that the blazes were intentionally set to seize residents’ land and create a so-called “smart island.” However, these claims are unsupported by evidence. The wildfires, which wreaked havoc in Maui, have triggered misinformation and unfounded theories that expose the challenges of enforcing social media policies during disasters.

A video published on August 12, 2023, on Facebook featured text claiming, “Hawaii fires were set to land grab.” The video’s creator suggested that the motivation behind the fires was to drive residents out of the area in order to free up land for development, particularly for wealthy individuals. This theory has propagated across various social media platforms, including Tiktok,  Instagram.

Amid the speculations, MR video on August 11 gained widespread attention on Instagram, where he asserted that the aftermath of the wildfire resembled something other than a fire, insinuating that an explosion may have occurred. However, meteorological experts from the National Weather Service (NWS) have refuted these claims, attributing the fires to dry conditions and strong winds amplified by Hurricane Dora.

Although the exact cause of the fires remains under investigation, there is currently no evidence to support the notion that the blazes were deliberately set to reshape the island’s urban planning and environmental sustainability.

Albert Simeoni, a professor and the head of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), highlighted that while a significant portion of fires in the United States are human-caused; instances of deliberate arson are relatively rare. He noted that, particularly in the case of inconceivable disasters like wildfires, people often seek someone to blame.

As authorities continue to unravel the origins of the Hawaii wildfires, experts emphasize that the conditions were ripe for a disaster of this nature. The investigation underscores the importance of relying on accurate information and expert analysis when assessing the causes of such catastrophic events.

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