Fact Check: Antennas On Fire In La Spezia, Italy, Were NOT 5G Towers

Fact Check

  • by: Ryan Cooper

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Antennas On Fire In La Spezia, Italy, Were NOT 5G Towers Not The Cause

Did a fire that broke out in La Spezia, Italy, destroy 5G wireless towers? No, that's not true: Local media reports say the fifth-generation cellular network is not available in the city. "5G has nothing to do with it," a newspaper headline reads in Italian.

The claim first appeared in a post (archived here) published in Italian on YouTube by Cosa è successo on April 6, 2020. Four days later, another post published by Liftin the Lid added English subtitles and titled the post "5g antennas on fire in La Spezia, Italy on 6th April 2020" (archived here).

Click below to watch the English-version of the video on YouTube:

Both posts incorrectly said the towers were "5G antennas." That is not true, according to Città della Spezia, a newspaper serving the Italian port city.

The paper covered the fire and wrote (roughly translated by Google):

The video ends up on the Net and inspires the conspiracy theorists, who associate it with new technology and even with COVID-19.

The article went on to report that the towers deployed older technology:

The trellis enveloped by the flames above has, in fact, mounted some "old" generation Telecom and Wind Tre devices. The first company, contacted by Città della Spezia, denies any link, therefore, with the new technology.

La Spezia is in the Liguria region in northwest Italy known as the Italian Rivieria. The paper said that the city does not currently have 5G wireless technology:

In Liguria, the tests for the arrival of 5G began last year and, at the moment, La Spezia is not among the cities covered by this technology.

The Italian video post appeared to link the tower fire to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, and suggested 5G was to blame. The caption for the video read (roughly translated by Google):

It will have happened to everyone, to hear someone raise doubts about the spread of Coronavirus by connecting it to 5G technology and the antennas in some areas, from Wuhan to Bergamo.

Lead Stories has previously debunked online rumors that 5G caused the coronavirus to spread like wildfire. This is simply untrue because the high-speed technology is not available in many of the countries that have seen outbreaks.

Experts also say 5G is not believed to have a severe impact on public health, according to a report by the U.K. edition of Wired magazine:

Despite this, there is no solid evidence that 5G - or any mobile communications network - can have a harmful effect on human health. The upgrade is based on similar technology to preceding mobile networks, and so far no study has found a link between mobile phones and cancer, although research into the area is ongoing.

We contacted the mobile phone company that apparently owned or operated the tower. The WINDTRE Press Office confirmed to us that the antenna in question did not have 5G equipment installed on it:

The technologies installed on WINDTRE's antenna are UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G) and provide voice and data services.

Concerns over 5G have spawned online rumors and conspiracy theories that are being shared to scaremonger the public. You can read more of our fact checks on the topic here:


  • 2020-04-16T10:55:22Z 2020-04-16T10:55:22Z
    Updated with statement from WINDTRE Press Office

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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