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Photos from US and Australia tweeted as Malik Heights building fire in Nairobi, Kenya

This article is more than 4 years old

A huge fire swept through the Malik Heights building in Nairobi on the evening of 3 June 2019.

A series of explosions were heard, and firefighters battled to contain the inferno.  

As the fire raged a Twitter user posted two photos, one of a burning skyscraper and the other showing  a huge spout of flame.

The tweet reads: “Spare a thought for tenants of Malik Heights which is on FIRE: It is Ultra modern 9 storey commercial complex located strategically along Ngong Road, in the Prime Adams Arcade Area. There is a car showroom there and cars are exploding one after the other. The situation looks bad.

The photo of the flame was shared on blogs, and posted on Facebook.

But are the tweet’s photos of the Malik Building fire? We checked.

Missile launch in the US

The photo of the massive flame was posted on the US Air Force Central Command website on 22 June 2011, a reverse image search revealed.

Its caption says it shows the launch of “an unarmed operational test Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile” at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The photo was also published on the website in 2011. Both websites credit the US Air Force and photographer Joe Davila.

We checked the metadata of the photo on the US Air Force website using an online tool and found it was taken on 22 June 2011 at 6.35am using a Nikon D200 camera. The metadata gives Joe Davila as the copyright owner.

The photo is not of the Malik Heights fire in 2019. It was published at eight years ago in the US.

Fire in Melbourne, Australia

A reverse image search of the skyscraper on fire shows it was first published in a story about a fire in Australia on 4 February 2019. The fire at the Neo 200 building on Spencer Street in Melbourne was widely reported in Australian and foreign news outlets.

The image shared in Kenya was taken by Simone Fox Koob, a reporter for the Age newspaper. The photo in the tweet was cropped, and one of a series of photos Koob took that day. The Age’s story includes a video of the building burning.

The photos were published four months before the Malik Heights fire. 


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