An anonymous woman showed her appreciation to a group of California firefighters by picking up their $400 tab at Denny's.
About two dozen firefighters were eating at the diner after having successfully contained a 70-acre fire in the city of Colton on July 9.
"After all of the firefighters finished fighting the La Cadena Fire in La Loma Hills this evening, they were sent to Denny's for dinner," the City of Colton Fire wrote on its Facebook page.
"While eating, an anonymous woman told the Denny's staff that she wanted to buy all of the firefighter's meals; there were about 25 firefighters in the restaurant at that time. This woman paid for the [meals] of all of the firefighters at Denny's at that time, plus tip for a total of $405; she also paid $100 for dessert for all of the crews."
They went on to thank the woman on behalf of the various agencies that helped battle the blaze.
"On behalf of all of the firefighters that worked on the La Cadena Fire from San Bernardino County Fire, Cal Fire, Redlands, Colton, Loma Linda, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, San Manuel, Montclair, Apple Valley, Chino Valley, Upland, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Aviation, and Colton PD, we thank you for your generous show of support," the post reads.
"We are all honored to serve the citizens of our communities."
The Denny's server who waited on the firefighters told The Press-Enterprise that she regrets not getting the woman's name.
"I felt so bummed out," 28-year-old Margarita Hernandez said. "I should have gotten her name."
She added that she was taken aback when the woman offered to pay the bill.
"I was like, 'Really? That's really sweet of you,'" Hernandez recalled. "She said, 'No these men are out there fighting for us and protecting our community.'"
The firefighters were equally moved by the selfless gesture.
"They were really in shock to know someone was kind enough to do that for them," she said.
Such generosity is not uncommon in Colton, according to Colton Fire Department spokesman Capt. Tom DeBellis.
"It happens all the time, more so when we’re on big fires," he explained. "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."
No matter how many times it happens, though, DeBellis said it is always valued.
"We’re out there doing our job, and we're grateful that people appreciate what we do," he said.
Around 100 firefighters from several different agencies turned out to battle the blaze, which was made more difficult by the 108-degree heat.
The fire started shortly after noon and had burned through 50 acres by 3 p.m. The fire crews were able to contain the flames before any nearby homes were damaged. By 6 p.m., the fire was under control.
Sources: City of Colton Fire/Facebook, The Press-Enterprise (2) / Photo credit: U.S. Air Force Public Affairs via Wikimedia Commons, City of Colton Fire/Facebook