TJ Hiner’s 12-minute Facebook video dispelling rumors that Antifa is behind the historic Oregon wildfires has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
PORTLAND, Oregon — TJ Hiner has been fighting wildland fires for the last 25 years.
He’s currently leading a fire crew of 20 people, all fighting the Lionshead Fire, located between Detroit and Warm Springs, which has burned more than 136,000 acres.
Hiner is tired from work but he’s most exhausted by the never-ending stream of conspiracy theories that Antifa is fueling the fires.
A Facebook live video, viewed more than 230,000 times, implores people to stop spreading rumors.
“Antifa is not running through the woods. Those guys don’t even want to leave their skateboards. We got fires starting 30 miles out in the woods, and you want to blame Boogaloo and Antifa,” said Hiner.
Federal and local law enforcement agencies have tried to fight the rumors by putting out statements all week.
The Portland FBI put out a statement Friday that said in part:
FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office put out a post squashing rumors that six members started a fire and were arrested in Roseburg.
Sgt. Brad O’Dell said their 911 call center is getting inundated with calls about people asking about Antifa.
“And it’s really taking time away from an already busy 911 center who is trying to provide life-saving resources out there to the individuals who need help,” said Sgt. Brad O’Dell.
Hiner said while arson could be a factor is some of the fires, it’s not a planned attacked by anti-fascists.
“Guys, it’s not terrorists. Don’t they usually they want credit. How many people have you seen take credit for this stuff?” said Hiner. “We did this. We built our power grid. We rely on it. We built our houses to the closest forests.”
The husband and father of four also asked people to check the articles and websites before sending them.
“If it’s from some weird darknet website, why share it? If it doesn’t have fundamental facts backing it up, stop sharing. You are a part of the problem.”
Hiner, who said he is not a democrat or republican, said he’s tired of people politicizing a natural disaster.
“I’m tired of my job being Russian lasers and Antifa and Boogaloo boys. And the reality is it’s just mother nature being pissed off,” said Hiner.