Thomas Fire Support for Tigre

On Monday, December 4th, Luis “Tigre” Villanueva and his family lost everything when the Thomas Fire ravaged Upper Ojai.

What is left of the Villanueva home. Photo by Tigre.

Tigre and his wife, Elizabeth, have two children - Karla, 13, is in 8th grade at Matilija Junior High in Ojai. Luis Enrique, 7, is in 2nd grade at Topa Topa Elementary, also in Ojai.

The Villanueva family at the relief station in Upper Ojai on 12/11. Photo by Trevor Quirk.

Tigre built his house with his bare hands. He can recall every nail hammered into every board, all of the drawings of the plans he worked so hard to complete. He saved every cent, all of his own money, to build his dream home. 13 years of hard work and the fire took it in an instant.

Building the house in Upper Ojai. All following photos provided by Tigre.

Tigre building the house.

The whole family helped to build their home.

Tigre had only enough time to grab the baby picture of his daughter before the fire engulfed their home. Instead of gathering his family’s belongings, he rushed to the ranch’s animals, to get them out of the corrals. At that point, he had to load his family in the car and quickly leave. Everything else was left behind.

In addition to the pain of losing the home he built with his blood, sweat, and tears, he also lost a shipping container full of all of his tools for work - skill saws, drills, a level, a nail gun, hammers, to name a few. Tigre is the foreman on a ranch in Upper Ojai, so he depends on those tools for his livelihood. In addition to helping the Villanueva family rebuild their home and replacing all of their day to day belongings, contributions to this campaign will also help Tigre to afford new tools so he can continue to work and provide for his family.

This is the container that held all of Tigre's tools for work. Photo by Tigre.

This is a photo of what is left in the container as of 12/14. Photo by Tigre.

Tigre had already nearly completed the Christmas shopping for the children. He recalled to me the wagon his son wanted so badly from Costco. He was proud to have gotten it before it sold out. They brought it home and hid it from the kids only 3 days before the fire. It was brand new, and along with everything else Tigre worked so hard to give to his family, is gone.

Luis Enrique at the Upper Ojai relief site on 12/11. Photo by Trevor Quirk.

This was the first year Tigre had not one, but two Christmas trees. The first tree he purchased 13 years ago when his daughter was just a baby. This year, he was proud to add a second live tree to their holiday display; his son wanted that tree so badly. Both trees are gone.

What remains of the trees and Christmas decorations. Photo by Tigre.

Tigre continually mentions that he is lucky to be alive, safe, and with his family.  He appreciates all of your support, generosity, and prayers. The family is currently staying with friends in Oxnard. All four are sharing one room.

The family has no insurance, and will be rebuilding completely on their own.

What is left of the Villanueva home. Photo by Tigre.

The remains of the kitchen. Photo by Tigre.

You can view the feature by Telemundo on the Villanueva family here:

Every cent raised here will go directly to Tigre, thanks to the efforts of Peter Deneen, Chandley Logsdon, Trevor Quirk, and Lexie Gritlefeld who connected Tigre with the author of this page, Katie Ota. We are a group of individuals born and raised in the Ojai Valley. We met Tigre through this disaster.  While I currently live in Santa Cruz, CA, my family still lives in Ojai and my heart has been with our community through this disaster. I have found a way to help my community from afar by assisting those who need it with their campaigns. I am absolutely honored to tell Tigre’s story, and I am proud to now know such a strong man. We wanted to address what may be a question for some donors and reassure everyone that this account was made by Tigre's request with his full involvement.

Thank you so much for helping this amazing family in their time of need. Together, we are #OjaiStrong.

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Katie Ota 
Ojai, CA
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