Old video of Los Angeles wildfire recirculates as 'fire tornado' in 2022

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple social media posts in Chinese and English alongside a claim it shows a "fire tornado" in the US city of Los Angeles in August 2022. Although local media reported that a dramatic brush fire erupted in Los Angeles County on August 10, the video has been shared in a false context. It has circulated online since December 2017 in reports about another Los Angeles wildfire.

The 18-second video -- which shows a raging wildfire seen from a highway -- was published on Twitter on August 13.

"A powerful fire tornado begins in Los Angeles," the tweet's simplified-Chinese caption reads.

The clip, viewed more than 7,000 times, appears to have been filmed from inside a moving vehicle.

A screenshot, taken on August 16, 2022, of the misleading post.

The video garnered more than 10,000 views after it was shared in both Chinese and English-language posts on Twitter and Weibo alongside a similar claim.

It circulated online after local media reported that a growing brush fire in Los Angeles County had produced a "fire tornado".

Earlier in August, AFP reported that at least four people died and thousands were forced to flee their homes after a wildfire swept through northern California.

The video, however, has been shared in a false context.

Dramatic footage

A combined reverse image and keyword search on Google found the video was taken from longer footage posted by Twitter user @WLV_investor here on December 6, 2017.

The Twitter post was embedded here on the website of US television network ABC News on December 7, 2017.

The report is headlined: "Dramatic images of LA fire looming over the 405 Freeway during morning commute".

It reads in part: "The latest wildfire in Southern California broke out in Los Angeles County overnight near the Getty Center and the 405 Freeway -- a shocking sight for early morning commuters."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in one of the false posts (left) and the 2017 clip (right):

Getty Center is an art museum located near Interstate 405, a major highway in California.

Using a road sign seen in the video in the misleading post, AFP located the highway here on Google Maps.

Below is a screenshot comparison of a keyframe in the video (left) and the highway on Google Street View (right):

A screenshot comparison of a keyframe in the video (left) and the highway on Google Street View (right).

This report by US-based media site Mashable on December 6, 2017 also featured the same video credited to Twitter user @WLV_investor.

The video was debunked by AFP in 2020 after it circulated alongside a claim that it shows wildfires burning in the US state of California in September 2020.