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Restaurant Owner Shares His Blessings to Hundreds of Californians Displaced by Camp Fire

Margaret Tionquiao

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“Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.”

This is particularly true in the case of Mexican restaurant owner Jose Uriarte, as he feeds hundreds in an evacuation center in California. This happened following the breakout of the century’s deadliest camp fire in the Sierra foothills 175 miles (280km) north of San Francisco.

Jose Uriarte, Sinaloa expat and owner of Gordo Burrito, hands out warm food to refugees at Elks Lodge.

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Nearly 12,000 homes and buildings burned displacing about 52,000 people. According to reports, refugee camps similar to Elks Lodge is all over the region — in Walmart parking lots, at the fairgrounds, anywhere that can fit portions of the people evacuated from their homes.

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fire-california

Uriarte typically closes his popular brick and mortar taqueria every Sunday to rest and to ‘Be with God.’ Now, the Sinaloa expat drives his taco truck through a thick fog of smoke to the parking lot of an old Elks Lodge in Chico. There, he hands out plates of tacos and tamales. He also feeds the other community helpers: EMTs, police, and social workers in need of a warm meal.

fire-california

fire-california

“I’m just a small business owner but I see people. I’m like, ‘Here’s 10 or 15 burritos.’ It’s the least I can do,” Uriarte said.

He was also generous with his time and takes orders from masked patrons. “It’s hard to really explain the reality of the situation. It’s heartbreaking, but I just want to do what I can to help anyone that needs it, right now,” Uriarte said.

“It’s cold and scary,” said Lilly Batres, 13, one of the few children there, who fled with her family from the forested town of Magalia.

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While the crews push containment, the sheriff’s “unaccounted for” list from the Camp fire also continues to grow by hundreds, says the California department of forestry and fire protection (Cal Fire).

fire-california

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