A conspiracy theory that went viral during the Maui wildfires in August 2023 that devastated parts of the Hawaiian island and killed at least 90 people posited that the fires were purposely started using directed energy weapons ("space lasers," basically), which were also a favorite conspiracist bogeyman during the California wildfires of 2021.
Any number of existing photographs and videos were misrepresented in social media posts as "evidence" that such military weaponry was responsible for these fires, including a video shot five years earlier in Kenner, Louisiana, showing a dramatic series of electrical explosions in the town caused by a blown power transformer.
In the X (formerly Twitter) reply posted below, dated Aug. 13, 2023, the caption claims, "Maui was attacked by directed energy weapons (dews)":
Maui was attacked by directed energy weapons (dews) pic.twitter.com/hEyaG10Pxf
— Jacob Conterio (@JacobConterio) August 13, 2023
Here is the same video, tweeted again under the same false pretenses the following day:
Try to keep an open mind.
Is this a Directed energy Weapon? https://t.co/bPQrVvSDSA
— 2024 John Flynn US Senate Candidate For CT (@Flynn2022) August 14, 2023
As we mentioned above, however, the video actually dates from 2018 and shows a series of electrical explosions in Kenner, Louisiana, not a so-called "directed energy weapon" attack in Maui:
— WWL-TV (@WWLTV) December 27, 2018
This WWL-TV report on the aftermath of the transformer explosions includes clips from that same dramatic video:
According to news reports, some Kenner residents described the spectacle as an "electric tornado."
As of this writing, Maui authorities have not yet specified an exact cause for the August 2023 wildfires on the island, but hot, dry, windy weather conditions are believed to have played a major role in the conflagration. As Snopes previously reported, a still photograph purportedly showing a "direct energy weapon" starting the fires was also used out of context and misrepresented.