A popular YouTube couple are accused of pretending to mandatorily evacuate their Orange County, California home during a wildfire all for some sweet, sweet ad dollars.
Buzzfeed reports that on August 13, the LaBrants posted a vlog titled, “WE LEFT OUR HOUSE BECAUSE OF FIRES IN CALIFORNIA.”
“Savannah texted me saying that there’s a huge fire right by our house, and we might need to evacuate,” says Cole. The video then cuts to news footage of the Holy Fire, which has burned over 22,000 acres and destroyed over 20 structures. They edited some sweet trop house/fauxggaeton over shots of the blaze. Cute touch!
Later, Cole captures the faraway fire while he’s driving and while he’s on his roof.
“I think it’s, like, four miles away,” he says, while a pregnant Savannah nods along. “And we just got an evacuation thing.”
“Hopefully we never have to upload this, but if we do, then you guys kinda saw what happened,” he adds.
Cole, ever the reliable narrator, says he packed a backpack full of essentials—listing only a camera and laptop—because they might not be able to return to their home that night. They also pack two suitcases; one for adults, another for a small child.
Before they hit the road, Cole really sells this whole fire thing to us, saying, “It smells like fire. It smells like a thousand people smoking cigarettes out here!”
Shortly after, the couple picks up Savannah’s daughter, Everleigh, from grandma’s house. Savannah assures Everleigh that they’re, “going away from the fire so you don’t have to be scared anymore.” Cole adds that Everleigh’s number one fear is fires.
I don’t have kids, and I am not an expert in their behavior, but Everleigh doesn’t seem particularly concerned.
Maybe it’s because she’s excited to go on vacation.
The rest of the video briefly features the family’s escape from Orange County, en route to San Francisco. There, they check in at a hotel and go on an impromptu vacation. The video becomes a straight-up travel vlog about their time in San Francisco. From time to time, Cole gives a shout out to the fire that’s raging, but it comes across as an afterthought.
Coincidentally, this all occurred around the anniversary of Cole asking Savannah to be his girlfriend, right by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s not as if the LaBrants are the only YouTubers to feature misleading titles on their videos, but that’s not the only thing that’ll leave you scratching your head. It turns out, the LaBrants never needed to evacuate in the first place!
The LaBrants live in Ladera Ranch, California, according to public records[...]Ladera Ranch is not one of the communities listed as an evacuated area for the Holy fire, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group website.
Neighbors of the couple told Fox 11 they were never evacuated, and they found the couple’s video upsetting.
“I just think it’s really sad they would exploit a situation that’s as serious as a fire that so many people were evacuated just so they could get more likes or more hits on their channel,” one neighbor told Fox 11.
Here’s another account from a Ladera resident:
The LaBrants were clearly exploiting this fire for views. Check out the initial thumbnail for the video depicted a worried looking LaBrant family in the forefront while a fire raged behind them:
The couple has yet to respond to the criticism.
Their channel largely features videos of the family doing seemingly run-of-the-mill activities and playing pranks on each other. But Cole and Savannah’s overall brand focuses heavily on their Christian faith, their Christian family, and their (Christian???) hotness. And with this new controversy, their brand can expand to exploiting terrible situations for clicks.