Fact Check

No, This Video Doesn't Show a 'Directed Energy Weapon' Attack on Maui

Conspiracy theorists used a 2018 video of electrical explosions in Louisiana to claim that Hawaii was attacked with a directed energy weapon in 2023.

Published Aug. 14, 2023

Image Via WWLTV/YouTube
A viral video showed a directed energy weapon attack on Maui in August 2023.

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)":

Here is the same video, tweeted again under the same false pretenses the following day: 

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: 

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. 


Crockett, Jennifer. "Neighbors Describe Power Outage Explosions as Electric Tornado with Eerie Green Glow." WDSU, 27 Dec. 2018, https://www.wdsu.com/article/neighbors-describe-power-outage-explosions-as-roaring-tornado-with-eerie-green-glow/25694242.

"Directed Energy Weapon System Points toward the Future of Warfare." www.Army.Mil, https://www.army.mil/article/260538/directed_energy_weapon_system_points_toward_the_future_of_warfare. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.

Electrical Explosion, Sparks Light up Kenner Sky. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY1c-NZPh8A. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.

Emery, David. "Were 2023 Maui Fires Caused by a 'Direct Energy Weapon'?" Snopes, 11 Aug. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/maui-wildfires-caused-by-direct-energy-weapon/.

Ibrahim, Nur. "Did Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Say 'Jewish Space Lasers' Caused California Wildfires?" Snopes, 1 Feb. 2021, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/greene-jewish-lasers-wildfires/.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.