More than every week after wildfires started blazing in Oregon, Washington and California, false and exaggerated claims in regards to the fires’ origins are nonetheless spreading like, nicely, wildfire.
The newest, most viral rumor includes Domingo Lopez Jr., a 45-year-old man who was arrested in Portland, Ore., on Sunday, and once more on Monday, on suspicion of beginning a collection of small fires. During certainly one of these arrests, the police photographed a bottle with a wick connected, a Molotov cocktail they stated Mr. Lopez had used to begin one of many fires.
Local information experiences famous on the time that the entire fires Mr. Lopez was suspected of setting have been shortly extinguished, and that no people or buildings were harmed. They additionally famous that Mr. Lopez was taken for a psychological well being examination after his arrests.
Still, right-wing web sites and conservative media influencers ran with the story about Mr. Lopez and his Molotov cocktail — typically omitting from their headlines the truth that none of these fires prompted any injury, or have been associated to the bigger blazes which have pushed 1000’s of individuals from their houses.
“Man Arrested for Starting Oregon Fire Gets Released Without Bail, Sets 6 More Fires,” learn one headline, by the pro-police information outlet Blue Lives Matter. The article was shared roughly 40,000 occasions on Facebook. Breitbart, the far-right information web site, additionally shared the story, getting greater than 27,000 Facebook shares on a publish whose headline additionally unnoticed the main points of the fires.
Dinesh D’Souza, the right-wing filmmaker, posted a meme with Mr. Lopez’s mug shot, by which he solid doubt on the scientific claims that the wildfires have been brought on by world warming.
As The New York Times’s Michael Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu reported on Tuesday, many conservative media figures, together with Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson, have aligned themselves with President Trump in an effort “to generate a deep skepticism of the notion that climate change is a factor in the fires devastating the West Coast.” Some of those figures have been pushing the unfounded narrative that arsonists and antifa sympathizers are answerable for setting the wildfires.
Law enforcement companies, together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have dispelled that rumor, and scientists say that local weather change is the first issue behind the blazes.