Mostly False
Viral image
A photo of a horse being pulled through a scorched ranch is from the Australia wildfires.

Viral image on Saturday, January 4th, 2020 in a Facebook post

Photo of horse being led through smoky, burned field taken in US

A heartbreaking image of a horse being led through a smoky, burned field is being shared on Facebook as the destructive wildfires in Australia continue to rage.

The photo on its own is uncaptioned, but it’s included in a viral collection of images that the poster says all depict recent scenes from Australia. But we found that the photo and many other images in the post were not actually taken in Australia.

The photo was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We tracked down the image through a reverse-image search and found that it is a real photograph, but it shows a scene from California in late 2019. 

The picture was taken by photographer Étienne Laurent on Oct. 30, 2019, in Simi Valley, Calif.

In the photo’s original caption, Laurent says that horses were being evacuated from a burning ranch as the Easy Fire spread near Simi Valley, which sits north of Los Angeles.

The image does not have a caption that says its from Australia, but it’s included in a gallery post that does. For that reason, we rate it Mostly False.