Fake news is not just a problem for politics — far from it. Even meteorologists have battled fake weather news for years. This month, one “wannabe weatherman” in Kentucky took it to a whole different — and more dangerous — level: He allegedly lit several wildfires for Facebook views.
Johnny Mullins, 21, posted “weather outlook” videos of himself in front of fires, NBC News reported. He warned eastern Kentucky residents to “be extremely careful if you’re out there,” Jenkins Police Chief James Stephens told NBC.
Stephens told the Associated Press that Mullins enjoyed the attention:
“It’s really too bad because he’s not a bad kid — he’s just misguided,” said James Stephens, the police chief in Jenkins, Kentucky, where Johnny Mullins, 21, was arrested this week on a second-degree arson charge.
“He likes to do Facebook videos and have people follow him on his ‘weather forecast,’ so that’s pretty much why he did what he did,” the chief said. “He enjoyed the attention he got from the Facebook stuff.”
“He didn’t realize how much danger he was putting other people in,” Stephens added.
Meanwhile, large fires are burning from Kentucky to Georgia thanks to extreme drought, many of which have been set by people. There’s someone roaming northern Georgia in a dark blue SUV that was last seen where other wildfires were started. In North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest, authorities are investigating 20 wildfires that they think were started by arson. Those fires alone have burned more than 17,000 acres.
The Southeast is battling some of its worst drought and wildfires on record. There are 17 large active wildfires in the southern Appalachians that have burned more than 80,000 acres. Thick smoke is drifting into the Carolinas, prompting Code Red air quality alerts.