After almost six hours battling the La Cadena fire in Colton, California Saturday, fire crews stepped into Denny’s for a well-deserved meal. What they ended up with was a well-deserved surprise.
The group of area firefighters got a nod of gratitude from an anonymous woman after she picked up the tab for about 30 emergency personnel.
“I felt so bummed out,” Margarita Hernandez, 28, of Colton, who waited on the firefighters, tells The Press-Enterprise. “I should have gotten her name.”
The Press-Enterprise reports not only did the anonymous Good Samaritan pay $355 for the firefighters’ food, and leave a $50 tip — she also purchased a $100 gift card and told Hernandez to use for dessert for an expected second wave of 25-30 firefighters.
An official tells The Press-Enterprise gestures of good will are not uncommon, and fire crews really appreciate the community’s support.
“It happens all the time,” Colton Fire Department spokesman Capt. Tom DeBellis tells The Press-Enterprise, “more so when we’re on big fires. People just anonymously donate money to cover the bill. They want to do what they can to help. In a small community like Colton it happens quite frequently.”
The firefighters for at least 14 agencies battled the fire in 108-degree temperatures, bringing it to containment by 6 p.m., about 5-1/2 hours after it was reported, according to The Press-Enterprise.
Hernandez said she was surprised by the woman’s gesture.
“I was like, ‘Really? That’s really sweet of you,’” Hernandez tells The Press-Enterprise. “She said, ‘No, these men are out there fighting for us and protecting our community.’”
Some of the firefighters were shocked to find about the woman’s gift of gratitude, she added.
“They were really in shock to know someone was kind enough to do that for them,” Hernandez tells The Press-Enterprise.
DeBellis said such acts help morale.
“We’re out there doing our job,” he tells The Press-Enterprise, “and we’re grateful that people appreciate what we do.”
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