FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show The 2020 California Wildfires From Above The Clouds?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 700 times purportedly shows the current California wildfires from above the clouds.

Verdict: False

The image, which predates the ongoing California wildfires by two years, shows a sunset in Hawaii taken from an airplane.

Fact Check:

Cal Fire, the state’s fire fighting agency, said the ongoing wildfires in California have burned over 1 million acres since Aug. 15, The New York Times reported. President Donald Trump on Aug. 22 issued a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for the state, providing federal funds to support local and state governments’ efforts to combat the blazes, according to Fox News.

A viral image falsely claims to show an aerial photo of the deadly fires tinging the clouds above red, despite the photo being unrelated to the ongoing blazes. (RELATED: Is This A NASA Satellite Image Of The Australian Wildfires?)

The photo, which has also been erroneously linked to the 2018 California wildfires, was taken by Nathan Province, who posted the photo on his Instagram roughly two years ago, with the caption clarifying, “This post is a sunset.” Province told Check Your Fact in an Instagram direct message that it was “taken from an airplane over Hawaii during sunset.”

“Indeed I did take this photo,” Province said. “It was mistaken for the wildfires but Snopes and Forbes debunked it when it went viral and was stolen from me in 2018.”

In response to an August 2018 tweet miscaptioning Province’s photo, Michael Lowry, a strategic planner at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, explained the phenomenon.

“This was taken from a C-17 ~40 min from Oahu, not CA (and not by Peter Singer),” the tweet reads, in part. “The glow is from a sun angle below the horizontal plane illuminating shallow altocumulus clouds. Not fires. Not lava.”

Social media users have previously shared photos that they falsely linked to wildfires. In January, Check Your Fact debunked a viral post claiming a similar image showed the Australian wildfires from above.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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