Authorities in Oregon have been calling on the public to refrain from sharing unsubstantiated rumors currently spreading on social media that claim that political extremist groups have been deliberately starting the fires that have ravaged nearly 1 million acres of land in the state. The rumors being spread, depending on the source, claim that the fires are being lit by either the anti-fascist group Antifa or the far-right neo-fascist organization Proud Boys, with the intention of looting homes that have been evacuated ahead of the advance of the conflagration. However, authorities at both the state and municipal level have seen no indication that the fires have been started by political groups.

“We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories,” according to a September 10 Facebook post made by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. “Rumors make the job of protecting the community more difficult,” the office added.

The same day, the Douglas county sheriff’s office posted that “Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON.”

One misleading article posted on the Law Enforcement Today website alleged that the historic wildfires burning along the west coast were part of a “‘coordinated and planned’ attack”, and that “there are current concerns and allegations that many of these people who have started fires may be related to Antifa.” The article did point out that “… these allegations have not be [sic] confirmed.”

“We’re not seeing any indications of a mass politically influenced arson campaign,” according to a Oregon department of forestry spokesperson in a statement given to the New York Times.

“One thing I can say is that the rumor it was set by Antifa is 100% false information,” Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said in a statement to The Oregonian. “We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction.”

The wildfires in Oregon have been part of a historic fire season along the U.S. West Coast, with Oregon itself seeing nearly 1 million acres (380,000 hectares) of land engulfed in flames that have killed at least 23 people; 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, contrary to an erroneous statement that 500,000 had been evacuated, made by Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management. One person has been arrested for arson, allegedly having started the fire that destroyed multiple homes in Phoenix and eventually merged with the Almeda Drive Fire; contrary to rumors, this individual had no apparent affiliation with either the Antifa or Proud Boys groups.

The spread of California’s wildfires have reached historic levels, the worst recorded in the state’s history: as of September 11, 7,718 fires have burned 3,354,234 acres (1,357,410 hectares)—that’s more than 3 percent of the 100 million acres the Sunshine State covers. 24 people have been killed in the fires with over 6,400 buildings lost, at a cost of over $1 billion.

Washington State has seen over 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) consumed by fire, with Governor Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency for the entirety of the state on August 19. Aside from the hot and dry conditions fueling the fires in the first place, battling the fires has been complicated by COVID-19-related personnel and resource shortages. Combined with the fires in Oregon, the Washington wildfires in 2020 were projected to be the worst in the United States by the Department of Natural Resources in early May.

While the west coast states are hardest hit this season, neighboring states have also been fighting their own blazes, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Air quality in cities along the West Coast has deteriorated to the point where a red haze is obscuring the sun, with numerous images of what are being described as “apocalyptic” scenes of re-tinted cityscapes circulating on social media.

The hot, dry conditions fueling these record-breaking fires are due to the continuation of long-standing drought conditions that have plagued the west half of the continent  for years, conditions that have been exacerbated by global warming.

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13 Comments

  1. Whitley, there is more than ample evidence of fires being intentionally started. I’ve seen the actual video of people handing out water to firemen so that they can be strategically placed to keep fires burning. The fires in California are EXACTLY 100 miles apart at the point of origin.
    The governors cut forestry budget and won’t allow clearing of brush which burns like kindling. Why aren’t these fires burning in Canada and Mexico?
    And we know that PG&E are responsible for the fires in the past. Other states clear out and burn barriers so that fires can’t spread like that. California loves to claim natural disaster and emergency funding to pay for their inability & refusal to manage the state’s budget. Fires pay really well if the blame can’t fall back on them.
    Another thing, there is proof of arsonists via security video, residence reports of people with straw & other starter material and fireworks. I don’t think they would lie when it’s their homes and property that is being destroyed.
    I’m pretty sick of people complaining about global warming when the US does more, adheres to more regulation than the majority of the world who gets a pass.
    China is largely responsible for the pollution of the oceans. India, Russia, China all are horrible polluters but rarely get called out for it.
    So, I strongly disagree that there is no evidence of arson. And of course the media is urging everyone not to spread this fact. They’re the same ones telling me that the people burning the city behind them to the ground are peaceful protesters.

    1. Yeah multiple people have been arrested for arson, yet for some reason this site wants to take on the role of the all too familiar propaganda fact checkers. Why is this happening here? I think it’s a valid question at this point.

      I’ve seen this story below censored and removed from Facebook multiple times – for some reason. It’s all getting a little too strange

      https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2019/02/14/arson-cranston-fire-brandon-mcglover-guilty-plea-idyllwild-sage-anza/2865735002/

      1. My apologies if I wasn’t clear regarding the topic, but this article is about authorities attempting to staunch false rumours about extremist groups starting the fires, and at no point claims that arson wasn’t involved.

        Unfortunately, because of the article’s subject I only thought to include one case involving an arson-related arrest, because I assumed that the misinformation about the extremists being spread was more important.

        Once again, I offer my apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

    2. My apologies if I wasn’t clear regarding the topic, but this article is about authorities attempting to staunch false rumours about extremist groups starting the fires, and at no point claims that arson wasn’t involved.

      Unfortunately, because of the article’s subject I only thought to include one case involving an arson-related arrest, because I assumed that the misinformation about the extremists being spread was more important.

      Once again, I offer my apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

      1. My apologies if I wasn’t clear regarding the topic, but this article is about authorities attempting to staunch false rumours about extremist groups starting the fires, and at no point claims that arson wasn’t involved.

        Unfortunately, because of the article’s subject I only thought to include one case involving an arson-related arrest, because I assumed that the misinformation about the extremists being spread was more important.

        Once again, I offer my apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

      1. So here you go again with this. That was an unrelated incident to the posted article, and nowhere did I claim them to be related – but you make it out like I associated the two. As if anyone with any sense would be led to think this. Clearly I was pointing out a pattern of – dare I say, deception? Interesting. I get it – you were there, seen exactly how the fires were started and verified personally that all the witness reports, police scanner audio and such describing arsonists are all false.

        I’ve been with this site since about ’99 or so. This was always a place where people came to question things, and always keep an open mind – because folks around here know a little something about how “official sources” might be prone to spread some BS here and there. Interesting how that’s changed since you came along! Making declarations of facts – policing comments – might as well make this another snopes. Might cause someone to wonder what your agenda is?

        1. I think I need some clarification regarding your first paragraph there before I can address it: are you saying that I’m claiming that there were no arson suspects arrested? If so, then I’m not sure how much more succinct I can be in getting across that I agree with you that it is true that there have been arson-related arrests made.

          As for my agenda–and I do indeed have one–that would be to continue this website’s mandate to deliver the truth. That means constant fact-checking and tracking down the source of any given piece of information to determine if it’s valid or not.

          In the wake of the crackdowns on the spread of misinformation being made on the bigger social media platforms earlier this year Whitley and I had a discussion to determine what course Unknown Country would take, and we decided that it would be best to call out unsubstantiated rumours that we know to be outright fictions–the spread of misinformation has long since had real-world repercussions, and we couldn’t in good conscience allow the site to become party to movements that threatened lives and livelihoods. This is why we’re “policing” certain comments, ones that are stating verifiable falsehoods as if they were actual fact.

          You can review Unknown Country’s posting rules at the bottom of our Privacy Policy and Posting Rules page.

          Otherwise, everyone’s free to talk about what they’d like on this site (as long as everyone’s respectful toward one-another), but that doesn’t mean that whatever is posted is immune from being called out as BS. This is also why I repeatedly ask for the posters I challenge to post their sources, to allow the poster some wiggle room in case I’m wrong.

          It is unfortunate that you don’t agree with the site’s continued use of “official sources” (quite frankly, I’m not sure where else I’m expected to gather information from), but Unknown Country’s News section has followed that practice since it’s inception, long before I became the site’s News Editor five years ago. Admittedly, it’s always been a balancing act to weed out the crap that inevitably finds its way into some news stories, but simple fact checking works just as well on wire services as it does on social media rumours and the like, and allows me to avoid throwing the baby out with the MSM bathwater.

          1. If Unknowncountry relied on “official sources” and their decades of known and proven lies on a myriad of topics for all this BS “fact checking”, then I guess you would’ve been telling us for the past fifty years that UFO’s don’t exist. If what this site wants to do is parrot squawk the “official sources” then you might as well go back and delete every episode with Linda Moulton Howe, Jim Marrs, Peter Lavenda, etc. So I guess this will no longer be a place where people can exchange ideas and theories about things- something that most people here have been fully capable of doing while understanding that just because someone here said it that it’s not like it was handed down from the slopes of Mt. Sinai. Now we need our ONE guy, our all knowing minister of truth, to scour HIS “official sources” to fact check for us. Got it.

          1. I’m sure he’s well aware of what’s going on here. I’m letting YOU know that I have an issue it. This little tap dance isn’t fooling anyone here. We don’t need narrative pushing fact checkers here. We’ve all seen the “extremist groups” and the activities they’ve been engaged in by attacking people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to this country. It’s no far stretch to entertain the idea that anyone willing to engage in such behavior just MIGHT have a hand in all this as well. No source I post here would offer definitive proof they are involved, just as this article offers no definitive proof they aren’t. Now for the ones that we DO know that have been engaged in the overwhelming majority of this behavior, we’re aware where they side politically. Not that I care, but nor is it any mystery where you side politically. So pushing this article as proof that you know something you don’t makes that agenda question quite valid.

            People are tired of having their intelligence insulted with all this verbal slight of hand all over the media and everywhere, and I’m telling you it’s not going to work here.

  2. Increased lightning activity major cause of the wildfires throughout the west. The global electric circuit is more in play now that we are in solar minimum and the earths electromagnetic shield has weekend in the last 150 years and increasing by the decade.

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