Video of Rome fire misrepresented as 'blaze in the Vatican'

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

As soaring temperatures fuelled wildfires in several European countries in early July 2022, a video was viewed thousands of times in social media posts that claimed it shows a fire in the Vatican. However, the claim is false: the footage in fact shows a fire near an archaeological park in eastern Rome. As of August 5, 2022, there have been no official reports about a fire in the Vatican in July. 

"Big fire at the Vatican", reads the simplified Chinese caption alongside the video posted on Twitter here on July 11.

The one-minute four-second video appears to show orange flames in the distance as plumes of smoke erupt into the sky.

Screenshot of the Twitter post, taken on August 5, 2022

   

The video was viewed more than 3,000 times on Twitter here, here and here, and on US social media site Gettr here and here alongside a similar claim.

The posts circulated online as wildfires were reported in several European countries, fuelled by a heatwave that scientists say are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.

There were multiple fires in Rome in July. However, the claim that the video shows a fire inside the Vatican is false.

Rome fire

Keyword and reverse image searches on Google found the same video contained in this tweet published on July 9.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the tweet published on July 9 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the tweet (right)

A keyword search about a fire in Rome on July 9 found these photos published by Rome's fire brigade about a blaze on the same day on Via Casilina in Rome's Centocelle district.

AFP also published images of the fire on July 9 in Rome here and here. 

"Smoke rises from burning vegetation after a fire broke out near Centocelle archaeological park, in eastern Rome on July 9, 2022," both photo captions read.

The Centocelle Archaeological Park in Rome is situated about 13 kilometres (eight miles) from the Vatican.

A search of roads close to the archaeological park and Via Casilina found the same location here on Google Maps, as shown below:

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video circulating in social media posts (left) and the Google Street View imagery from the same location (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video circulating in social media posts (left) and the Google street imagery (right)

As of August 5, 2022, there have been no official reports about a fire in the Vatican in July.

AFP previously debunked similar false posts here.