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- There’s no evidence to support this claim.
"Oprah started the fire," declared a recent Instagram post that delved into a conspiracy theory that Oprah Winfrey, among others, is responsible for the recent wildfires on Maui, Hawaii.
The claim was attached to a video that said Oprah and others, including Hawaii’s governor, want to buy Maui’s now-devastated landscape and turn the area into a "smart city."
We’ve previously debunked a claim about whether the governor said he wants to seize land to turn Lahaina, a historic city on the island, into a so-called smart city, and about Winfrey, who reportedly owns property on Maui and was accused of painting a home there blue to protect it from directed energy lasers supposedly starting the fires.
We found no evidence that she started the fires there.
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
A team of U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators was recently dispatched to Maui to determine the fire’s origin and cause.
Maui County, meanwhile, has accused Hawaiian Electric, an electric utility on the island, of causing the fire. Hawaiian Electric has said its power lines were responsible for one of two fires in Lahaina, but that the historic town was ravaged by a different fire, Reuters reported.
Investigations continue. But we’ve seen no credible news stories or other sources blaming Winfrey for starting the fires.
We rate that claim False.
Instagram post, Aug. 21, 2023
ABC News, Hawaii power utility takes responsibility for first fire on Maui, but faults county firefighters, Aug. 28, 2023
Reuters, Hawaiian Electric denies Maui lawsuit claims about cause of wildfire, shares surge, Aug. 28, 2023
NBC News, Federal investigators dispatched to Maui to determine exact cause of catastrophic fire, Aug. 17, 2023
The Washington Post, Maui utility may have compromised evidence in fire probe, lawyers say, Aug. 26, 2023
PolitiFact, True blue? No. Story about celebs’ paint preferences is fake, Aug. 25, 2023
PolitiFact, Shortened video distorts Hawaii governor’s comments about preserving Lahaina, Aug. 16, 2023
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