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Rumors that antifa, Proud Boys started wildfires in Oregon are false, law enforcement officials say

Rumors that antifa, Proud Boys started wildfires in Oregon are false, law enforcement officials say
Posted at 12:36 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 12:36:10-04

Law enforcement officials in Oregon say there is no evidence that anti-fascists or right-wring groups were the cause of a series of devastating wildfires throughout the state.

Oregon is one of about a dozen states in the western U.S. that are currently battling historic wildfires, which have spread due to heatwaves combined with dry and humid conditions.

But as the fires spread in Oregon, so have conspiracy theories linking their origin. According to USA Today, several Facebook posts have gone viral in recent days that claim the fires were started in connection with ongoing civil unrest in Portland.

One of those posts included a screenshot of what appeared to be a status update by the Medford Police Department. That post claimed that five members of the "Proud Boys" — a right-wing group known for inciting violence at protests — had been arrested for arson due to anonymous tips.

However, according to the Medford Police Department, that post was fabricated.

"We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or "Proud Boys" as we've heard throughout the day," the department wrote. "Also, no confirmed gatherings of Antifa which has also been reported."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Department was also forced to address false rumors of antifa members setting forest fires. The department says a social media rumor caused thier 911 dispatchers to be "overrun" with calls regarding the conspiracy.

"Do your part, STOP. SPREADING. RUMORS!" the office said in a Facebook post. "Follow official sources of information such as local emergency response websites and pages, government websites and pages and local reputable news outlets."

According to Oregon Live, many of the rumors about Antifa starting wildfires were shared by supporters of QAnon — a baseless conspiracy theory that claims President Donald Trump is battling members of the "Deep State" and a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Other mainstream conservative pundits also contributed in spreading the rumors.

Oregon Live notes that officials are investigating one of the dozens of fires in the state as a potential arson, though there is currently no indication that civil unrest was the motive. The Wall Street Journal reports that officials suspect many of the wildfires currently burning in the west were caused by lightning.