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Woman surprises firefighters by picking up $400 tab at Denny's

A woman's kind gesture at a local Denny's for firefighters in California is going viral.
/ Source: TODAY

After fighting the La Cadena wildfire in La Loma Hills, California on July 9, a group of about 25 firefighters headed to a local Denny’s restaurant for a much-needed refuel. The crew enjoyed coffee, Oreo shakes and bacon. But as they sat down for dinner, little did they know that a special gesture from another patron was in action.

Now, a post recounting that act of kindness on the City of Colton Fire’s Facebook page has gone viral.

“While eating, an anonymous woman told the Denny's staff that she wanted to buy all of the firefighter's meals,” the post reads. “This woman paid for the meal of all of the firefighters at Denny's at that time, plus tip for a total of $405.”

Captain Tom DeBellis, Public Information Officer for the Colton fire department, told TODAY Food that the money covered all of the meals of the firefighters who were in the restaurant at the time. “That was just one portion of the total bill,” he said, adding that other crews came in later and some got meals to go. The total bill was around $1,700.

That woman also bought a $100 gift card to pay for dessert for the other firefighters coming into the restaurant later.

Though they weren't able to thank the woman in person, the appreciative crew posted, “On behalf of all of the firefighters that worked on the La Cadena Fire… we thank you for your generous show of support.”

The original Facebook post has since garnered over 7,000 reactions and 800 comments, with many people praising the woman for her generous surprise.

One commenter said, “Kindness, generosity, and truly great people do exist!” while another noted, “If you've read this post, do everyone a favor and pay it forward!”

Some people, however, reportedly weren't satisfied with the way the tip was handled.

“There were some negative comments [on the Facebook post] about the tip,” DeBellis said. Some people were saying the $50 wasn’t enough for the $355 bill. “We tip on top of the bill,” he said. “Our individual firefighters typically leave tips on top of that, so the servers were well compensated.”

The City of Colton Fire Department ended its post with a message for all the locals they serve. “We are all honored to serve the citizens of our communities.”