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When a Detroit Taquero’s Food Truck Caught Fire, the Community Stepped Up to Help

One fellow taco truck owner lent one of their trailers to the family-owned business to aid in their road to recovery

A white taco truck damaged by fire in Detroit, Michigan. Courtesy of Cesar Magaña
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

Tacos el Toro food truck has been a constant fixture on a strip mall parking lot on Michigan Avenue for the past 16 years. But when a fire broke out on the morning of Monday, March 6, sending owner Feliberto Magaña to the hospital with first and second-degree burns, and left his family scrambling to figure out how to recover.

In the days since then, however, the southwest Detroit community has stepped forward to lend a hand. One cousin launched a GoFundMe campaign and has, so far, raised more than $5,500 of the estimated $45,000 needed to replace the truck. According to Magaña’s son, Cesar, another food truck operator in southwest Detroit is allowing the Magaña family to borrow one of their truck trailers that’s usually only used for special occasions until the family has figured out their next steps.

“The whole community is helping my dad out because they know what type of person he is, and they know that if anybody needed help, he will be one of the first ones to help out,” Cesar Magaña tells Eater.

The incident occurred about 10 a.m. Monday on the 6000 block of Michigan Avenue, Detroit Fire Department public information officer James Harris said Tuesday. Cesar Magaña says that the family believes a propane gas line got loose, prompting Feliberto Magaña to try fixing it. He was instead hospitalized with burns to his face and hands and is now recovering at home.

Cesar Magaña says that his father began his career as a taquero 35 years ago in California running a food stand, before relocating to Detroit, where relatives already in the Motor City spoke of the vast opportunities to be had for street vending in the city.

When the Magañas arrived in Detroit, they launched their first Tacos el Toro truck on Michigan and Martin on a parking lot where the Super Dollar Store Plus is located. It wasn’t long before the business grew to operate four trucks, however, when the 2008 recession hit the family was forced to downsize its operations.

Cesar Magaña says that the outreach since the fire ravaged through the truck has been mostly positive. Among those who reached out to offer support, the owners of Tacos el Caballo food truck, located on Springwells, which lent its spare food truck trailer to the family. Magaña tells Eater that this sort of community rallying is common and recalled that when one of the brothers of the Tacos el Caballo ownership was shot and killed on their food truck, the Magañas stepped forward to help their taquero brethren.

As for Tacos el Toro, a family friend and a nephew of Feliberto Magaña will operate the business until he is recovered.

“It’s been a rough, rough start for the Magaña family, but you know, we just gotta keep on going and stay strong together,” Cesar Magaña tells Eater.