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 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.
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.
#Roma, dalle 16.45 i #vigilidelfuoco stanno intervenendo in via Casilina, zona Centocelle, per un #incendio che ha coinvolto alcune attività di autodemolizioni. Dieci squadre al lavoro [#9luglio 19:00] pic.twitter.com/izfdkxQTfR
— Vigili del Fuoco (@vigilidelfuoco) July 9, 2022
"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.
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.