Taquero Drives Out To Wildfire Evacuation Camp, Feeds Hundreds Left Homeless By Blaze
The Camp Fire, California's deadliest wildfire, rages on. So far, 52,000 people have been evacuated, 11,000 homes burned, 71 confirmed dead, and over a thousand still missing.
Jose Uriarte's taco and burrito shop, Gordo Burrito in Chico, CA, is just outside the wildfire's range. Every day, Jose, who immigrated from Guamuchil, Sinaloa, gives free food to the firefighters, EMTs, police and social workers working tirelessly to serve their fire-ravaged community.
Handing out plates of tacos, rice, and beans to wildfire evacuees.
Last Sunday, he closed up the storefront, gathered up a crew, and drove his taco truck out to the Elk's Lodge wildfire evacuation camp. The scene that greeted him was apocalyptic.
In a phone interview, Jose could not find words to describe the scope of the devastation. "It's so...big," he said, before going on to describe how the dense smoke blocked out the sun and made everything "cold and surreal."
When he arrived at the Elk's Lodge refuge, Jose was met by hundreds of shell-shocked evacuees, families who had lost everything: their homes, jobs, all their possessions.
So he got to work, giving out tacos, burritos, and tamales to over 300 people.
Jose couldn't hold back the tears when he talked to KPCC about his experience at the camp, saying that some people cried when he arrived.
"Everybody was really appreciating that we were there for them. They take pictures; they all tell a little story. But everybody was really appreciating that they can have a hot meal."
His voice breaking, Jose recalled that one woman said to him:
"I would like to talk to the [President] and tell him he cannot make American great without you, without people like you."
Jose was deeply affected by her words.
"This is something that really touched me," he said, "because I came to the US with nothing, and now I have a lot, by working hard, and I'm really proud of that."
Jose is going back again this weekend with more free meals. Jose and his crew are proof that "when Mexico sends its people," they send their very best.
Jose wants to keep providing hot meals to the families devastated by the wildfire.
Help him help them by clicking below to donate whatever you can.