Help on the way for fire victims regardless of status

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Ojai Valley News photo by Andra Belknap
Information flyers hang on the door at Help of Ojai's offices.
Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Editor's note: Some names in this story have been changed.
Geronimo (not his real name) spent the evening of Dec. 4 buying groceries for his family. He hurried home, groceries in tow, when he heard news of the Thomas Fire.
Hours later, his home was destroyed by the blaze.
“Never in my life did I buy an organic turkey, but that day I bought an organic turkey for $80,” he recalled. “Never in our life was the refrigerator full like that day.”
Geronimo, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, built the unpermitted home on the Ojai Valley ranch land where he works as the caretaker. He didn't secure permits from the county to build the home and did not have insurance, he said.
The now-destroyed home was a project Geronimo undertook in order to move his wife and children from the rat-infested trailer they previously lived in.
The family's loss is profound.
See also: “Fire-related relief services continuing,” Ojai Valley News, Dec. 21, 2017.

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