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FACT CHECK: No, this viral image does not show view of California wildfire above clouds

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Summary

A two-year-old photo depicting a sunset over Hawaii is being falsely shared to show the view of California wildfire above clouds.

California is going through a very rough phase owing to the fatal wildfires. As per the latest updates, more than a dozen state parks across California have been shut down as wildfires continue to rage. As of September 15, California is struggling with 15 active wildfires; more than thousands of acres of land have been burned down to ashes.

Amid this, an image showing an aerial view of fiery red clouds across the sky started doing rounds on social media platforms. The is being shared purportedly showing 'view of California wildfire above clouds.' 

A Twitter user shared the image along with the caption, "This is a view of the California wildfires from above the clouds. Not my photo, but didn't see photo credits... It's morbidly beautiful. Such a horrible shame.. all of those animals that called this home." 

The same image was shared on Facebook with the same claim. 

The picture is viral on Twitter with the same claim.

The truth behind the claim 

In our investigation, we found this claim to be false. 

With the help of a reverse image search, we found several Tweets from 2-years back, carrying the same image, showing California wildfire in 2018. Hence, it got clear that the image does not show the California wildfire of 2020.

We also found a report by AFP, according to which, the photo was not taken in California, nor does it depict forest fires from above clouds.

The image was captured by Nathan Province, a Hawaii resident who also shared this image on his Instagram account back in 2018. He confirmed to AFP, "It was nowhere near California. This was taken over the big island of Hawaii... on July 22. (This is a) sunset picture at 30,000-feet altitude at about 7:30-8:00 pm-ish (from a plane) flying westbound." 

As the image again went viral on social media falsely showing California wildfire, a user comment on the post, "Over 18,000 people have shared this photo thinking that it was of the California Wildfires. I keep referring people back to this post."

Province responded back to this comment saying, "thank you! Ya I dunno, it seems like that every time there is a wildfire this gets circulated again with those false claims. Thank you for referring them to the truth!"

According to a tweet from atmospheric scientist and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) strategist Michael Lowry, “The glow is from a sun angle below the horizontal plane illuminating shallow altocumulus clouds.”

In conclusion, a two-year-old photo depicting a sunset over Hawaii is being falsely shared to show the view of California wildfire above clouds.

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