Watch CBS News

Moorpark Community Comes Together To Help Owner Of Lalo's Mexican Food After Thanksgiving Eve Fire

MOORPARK (CBSLA) - A Thanksgiving tragedy is bringing the community of Moorpark together in more ways than one, as they give back to one of their own.

Screen Shot 2021-11-30 at 10.29.28 PM

Orlando Orozco, owner of Lalo's Mexican Food, in Moorpark was stripping his restaurant floors the night before Thanksgiving, when a fire suddenly broke out, engulfing him in flames.

He was luckily able to escape the restaurant, where an employee had the wherewithal to pat him down, extinguishing the flames before he was rushed to the hospital - and he's been there since.

Orozco sustained burns to over 60 percent of his body.

Alyssa Ziegeler, Orozco's sister-in-law, noted that no one was prepared

"He's such a strong, hardworking guy. It's definitely difficult to see him in this state."

Now, the father of four has to have surgeries every 3-to-5 days for the next several months as he continues to heal from the tragic incident. As a result, he is unable to spend time with his family, manage his beloved restaurant or spend time giving back to his community as he so often did - in his spare time, Orozco acts as the Head of Nutrition for the Moorpark Unified School District.

Julie Tudder, co-worker of Orozco, also indicated that when the first reaches of the pandemic began to affect his local community, he was one of the first people to jump into action:

"He was the first one when COVID hit, trying to figure out how to get meals to everybody. It's strange times were living in, and he was hands on handing out meals to anyone and everyone."

Screen Shot 2021-11-30 at 10.44.07 PM

In a turn of events, the community has come together to give back to the restaurant owner and his family, who's entire holiday season was derailed by the freakish accident.

Kimberly Austin, creator of the GoFundMe fundraiser to help the family and restaurant during this different time, said the community wouldn't be the same without Orozco behind the counter at Lalo's,

"The best thing about coming into Lalo's is seeing Orlando's smiling face, and no matter how busy they are he makes you feel important - he makes you feel like you matter."

You can find the GoFundMe by searching "Please Help Orlando Orozco, Co-Owner, Lalo's." As of now, they have received over $84,000 of their $125,000 goal, from over 900 donors.

Restaurant employees also posted flyers on the outside of the restaurant with a message to the public:

"In the early morning hours of Thanksgiving, our co-owner, Orlando, was seriously injured when a fire erupted at our restaurant. He sustained burns on approximately 60% of his body, and, as of now, he will be in the hospital for 2-3 months minimum with surgery every 3-5 days. In addition, Lalo's has smoke and water damage from the fire, and we are actively trying to reopen. Orlando has three children, and his wife Marie is expecting their fourth in May. Please help in any way you can. Thank you and we hope to see you soon."

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.