FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show Ukrainian Firefighters?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows three Ukrainian firefighters covered in ash.

Verdict: False

The photo shows Tasmanian firefighters working during the Tasmanian bushfires of 2019, not Ukrainian firefighters.

Fact Check:

At least 902 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, according to a report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The country has also experienced widespread destruction, with one Ukrainian official estimating the war has cost $100 billion in infrastructure damage, Reuters reported.

A Facebook image shows a group of three, seemingly exhausted firefighters covered in ash sitting next to one another. “Ukrainian Firefighters,” reads the image’s caption.

The picture is not from Ukraine and predates the Russian invasion. A reverse image search revealed the photo first appeared in a Feb. 1, 2019 Facebook post from The Wolfe Brothers, an Australian country band. “If you are unaware currently in Tasmania there is some seriously bad Bush Fires,” reads part of the post’s caption. “Nearly 3 percent of the state has been destroyed. A friend sent us this photo.. LOOK at these incredible men, they look like they have been in a war zone!”

The post went on to identify the firefighters as “Jason Luck, John Kroczewski, Paul Catteral.” The image is credited to another firefighter named John Lyons. The photo was shared by the Australian news outlet SBS News and The New Zealand Herald at the time. (RELATED: Does This Footage Show American Soldiers Parachuting Into Ukraine?)

Over 40 fires, ignited by lighting storms between December 2018 and January 2019, burnt almost 3% of the island of Tasmania, according to the Fire Centre Research Hub (FCHR). About 520 fire crews worked to extinguish the fires throughout the month of January, The Guardian reported. The fires were eventually brought under control in the last week of March 2019, according to the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub.

This is not the first time images from a fire have been misattributed to the conflict in Ukraine. Check Your Fact recently debunked an image that claimed to show an elderly man attempting to evacuate Ukraine with his cat but actually showed a man fleeing his home in Turkey after it had caught fire.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter