A viral video circulating on different social media platforms, published in September 2020, has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times alongside a claim, showing a fire started by a Chinese "spy" on the West Coast of the United States.
The video clip has been shared in an ambiguous context. It was shared on several social media platforms since at least August 2020 in reports concerning US firefighters igniting a restrained fire in an attempt to stop the spread of wildfires.
On September 12, 2020, the footage was published on Twitter. The post has been retweeted by several Twitter users for more than 3,400 times and viewed more than 205,500 times after the account named "Emergency (Breaking News)" initially posted it.
A Portion of the traditional Chinese-language caption interpreted to English as a spy of the CCP was arrested for starting a fire with the use of a drone. On the 9th, FBI officials disclosed to the public that they have started an investigation after the US Department of Homeland Security's analysis model displayed most of the starting fires of the west coast wildfires unfurl along forest roads.
Li Jianjun, a 57-year-old who migrated to the United States about 20 years ago, was searched and a video clip was discovered on a laptop he owned. GPS records of his car revealed that for a number of times in early August, he has gone to the area of the fire.
The traditional Chinese text superimposed on the clip stated the West Coast wildfire has spread along the roads and forests, and following an investigation, an immigrant from China and CCP spy was taken into custody for using a drone to start a fire.
CCP is short for the Chinese Communist Party, China's single governing political party.
The viral video showed an aircraft discharging fireballs while moving over the forest. On the footage, a map revealing fires along the US West Coast was also viewed, Boom reported.
According to a report of the AFP on September 14, the record-breaking wildfires have covered around five million acres on the West Coast, causing tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes.
The video has circulated through Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo alongside a similar claim.
However, the claim was misleading.
On August 22, Google's reverse image search displayed a similar video on a US-based car enthusiast blog.
The blog entry was entitled, POV heli-torch camera showing fireballs being discharged by firefighters from a helicopter to prevent larger fires from escalating.
It reads in part, saying firefighters were not only setting trees on fire at random, they have a plan to determine which trees to burn, while considering mind factors such as wind direction and how close it is to the larger fire they are trying to put out. Burned line of trees establishes a firebreak that is comparable to a bit of open area in a forest.
A subsequent keyword search discovered the actual video clip has been first posted on Facebook and Instagram by a user named Fireman323 on Instagram on August 21, 2020.
中共超限戰ROI極高，$10K投入可造成$10B損失。暗殺&破壞包裝成私人恩怨️️ pic.twitter.com/shzCWij1LO — 突發事件[Breaking News] (@breakup1984) September 12, 2020