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Firefighters battle the Smokehouse Creek Fire north of Canadian, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP) Firefighters battle the Smokehouse Creek Fire north of Canadian, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP)

Firefighters battle the Smokehouse Creek Fire north of Canadian, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP)

Sara Swann
By Sara Swann March 5, 2024

No, directed energy weapons did not start the Texas wildfires

If Your Time is short

  • There is no evidence that directed energy weapons started the Texas wildfires. Social media users are pointing to a video of a green laser beam as evidence, but it was shared online months before the fires began.

  • Authorities are still investigating how the Texas wildfires started. Hot weather, dry land and high winds have fueled the Smokehouse Creek fire’s spread.

  • Similar claims have been made linking directed energy weapons to fires in Hawaii, Canada and Russia. But these are also unfounded.

  • No spin, just facts you can trust. Here’s how we do it.

After wildfires broke out in Texas, the largest in the state’s history, a familiar conspiracy theory began circulating online: Social media users are claiming the blaze was set intentionally using "directed energy weapons."

A March 3 Instagram post shared side-by-side videos of a purported "directed energy weapon" attack and the Texas wildfires. The video on the left showed what appeared to be a flash of lightning with a green laser beaming down behind a house at night. The video on the right showed a Texas landscape covered in smoke and fire.

The video’s text says, "Could these two events be related?"

(Screengrab from Instagram)

Other Instagram posts also shared the green laser video and suggested it was related to the Texas wildfires.

One post’s caption read, "If this is actual footage … we’re looking at yet ANOTHER intentionally set fire courtesy of DEWS (directed energy weapons) and our lovely (government)."

Some X posts shared a clip of President Joe Biden discussing the Texas wildfires and claimed he said directed energy weapons were involved. We previously fact-checked social media posts that took this clip of Biden out of context. The president was discussing the need for buildings to be up to code to better withstand wildfires.

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These posts were 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.)

In the week since fires broke out across the Texas Panhandle, more than 1 million acres of land have burned, and at least two people have been killed. The fires have also killed thousands of livestock animals, scorched fields of crops and destroyed hundreds of buildings.

Directed energy weapons are real and fire concentrated electromagnetic energy at light speed. Such weapons include high-energy lasers, high-power microwaves and radio frequency devices. The United States and other countries are researching using directed-energy weapons for military purposes, but there is no evidence they were used to ignite the Texas wildfires.

Authorities are still investigating how the Smokehouse Creek fire, which still burns, started. A Texas homeowner sued a utility company, blaming a downed power line, but officials have not determined a link. Hot weather, dry land and high winds have fueled the fire’s spread.

The green laser beam video predates these Texas fires. Reverse-image searches using Google Images found this video was shared online as early as Dec. 31, 2023. The account that appears to have first shared it is known for videos that claim to show paranormal or extraterrestrial activity.

Last year, social media users also claimed that directed energy weapons ignited fires that devastated Maui, Hawaii. There have been similar claims about fires in Canada and Russia. But all these claims are unfounded.

We rate the claim that the Texas wildfires were started by directed energy weapons False.

PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Instagram post, March 3, 2024

Instagram post, March 2, 2024

Instagram post, March 2, 2024

X post, March 1, 2024

X post, March 1, 2024

PolitiFact, "No, this video doesn’t show that weapons ignited Canada’s wildfires," June 13, 2023

PolitiFact, "No evidence Moscow fire linked to direct energy weapons or Putin interview," Feb. 13, 2024

PolitiFact, "Directed energy weapons weren’t used to start the fires in Hawaii and these photos don’t rebut that," Aug. 22, 2023

PolitiFact, "No evidence direct energy weapons caused Maui wildfires," Aug. 18, 2023

PolitiFact, "Fires can hop; directed energy weapons did not spare blue things in Hawaii," Aug. 24, 2023

PolitiFact, "Did Biden confirm blue roofs are spared in wildfires? No, that’s False," March 1, 2024

U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Science & Tech Spotlight: Directed Energy Weapons," May 25, 2023

U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, "Directed Energy Futures 2060," June 2021

Office of Naval Research, "Directed Energy Weapons: High Power Microwaves," accessed March 4, 2024

The Texas Tribune, "Texas Panhandle wildfires: What you need to know about the blazes, damage and recovery," March 4, 2024

The Texas Tribune, "State calls for investigation into cause of Texas Panhandle wildfires," March 1, 2024

The New York Times, "Texas Wildfires: What We Know About the Smokehouse Creek Fire," March 3, 2024

Agence France-Presse, "Directed energy weapon conspiracy theories resurface after Texas wildfires | Fact Check," March 1, 2024

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No, directed energy weapons did not start the Texas wildfires

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