The Oak Fire continues to burn just outside Yosemite National Park, destroying dozens of homes since it began on July 21. One home that was burned was the location of one of the most famous videos the internet has ever seen.
On July 3, 2010, Paul Vazquez stepped outside his Yosemite home to see a big, bright double rainbow in the valley below. As his iPhone camera rolls, he expresses jubilance over the view, continuously asking himself “What does this mean?” The video proved inspirational around the world, gaining nearly 50 million views on YouTube and making Vazquez a celebrity, with appearances on Good Morning America and other national programs.
Here the now iconic video:
Paul died in 2020 and had given the property to his daughter, Irene Vasquez, who had moved into the home with her husband Kevin Spach in 2021. On Saturday, July 23rd, the Oak Fire destroyed the entire property, reducing everything to ash.
The couple started a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of the destruction. Here’s what it says about the property and fire:
On Friday, July 22nd, the Oak Fire started a few miles from Yosemebear Mountain Farm and began running. Kevin had to evacuate fast. He got the animals and a few of the most important belongings to safety in the red shadow of the smoke column. One dog was so scared he had to be dragged out from hiding under the yurt. Irene was working as a resource advisor on the Washburn Fire in Yosemite and was unable to make it home before the road closures. By the next day, every building on the property was reduced to ash along with many of their neighbors’ homes. The beautiful green of Buckingham Mountain that sat under the double rainbow is now sparse burnt snags.
Kevin Spach and Irene Vasquez were married in 2021 and moved onto Yosemebear Mountain Farm, which Irene had recently inherited from her father, Bear. It was the place where he filmed the Double Rainbow YouTube video that went viral. Her parents bought the land in 1987 with no infrastructure or building. Irene has deep ties to the area as a member of the non-federally recognized tribe the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation.
They helped her Dad maintain and keep the place livable through the last years of his life. This homestead had beautiful views, an old single-wide mobile home, and a lifetime of Irene and her brother Paul’s wonderful memories. Kevin and Irene set out to make it their home.
With the help of friends and family, Kevin constructed a second-hand yurt with a wood burning stove. It was a challenging build but a nice living space nestled in the fruit trees Bear planted. In just a year, they planted 1500 native pollinator plants, started a vegetable garden and compost, and cleared off countless refuse piles. It was beginning to feel like their own home, and their work had paved the way for prosperity before the Oak Fire started.
It will take effort, time, and money to rehab the land or find a new place to call home.
Any donation is greatly appreciated along with any prayers or good thoughts you can send their way. Thank you!