Most people could not imagine the horror of realizing their bed is engulfed in flames only moments after they lie down to go to sleep. But this is exactly what was experienced by Catherine Ritchie.

In 2019, the 90-year-old had lived in her home for almost 60 years when something horrifying happened. She had lived alone in the home since her husband died a decade before. Ritchie was going about her normal routine one night when she suddenly realized she was in danger – her house was on fire.

Ritchie tried to fight the fire herself but quickly learned she was overmatched. She dialed 911, pressed the alarm, and attempted to escape the home. Unfortunately, she found in the time she had taken to fight the fire, the condition in the home had greatly deteriorated.

The smoke in the Sapulpa, Oklahoma, home made it impossible for Ritchie to see. She became lost in the hallway of her home and found herself in serious danger.

Four teenage boys, aged 14 through 17, were not far away when they smelled Ritchie’s home burning. They also heard the alarm that she sounded. The boys did not hesitate to run into the home and come to the aid of the elderly woman.

The four boys searched desperately for Ritchie once inside the home. Nick Byrd, the youngest member of the bunch, located Ritchie first, as reported by KAKE. Nick picked the woman up in his arms and, despite her protests that she could walk, he carried her from the burning house.

Ritchie and all four boys were able to exit the house without injury. First responders arrived not long after.

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According to a letter from Ritchie’s daughter, the four boys who helped the 90-year-old woman were 17-year-old Wyatt Hall, 16-year-old Dylan Wick, 16-year-old Seth Byrd and 14-year-old Nick Byrd. According to PEOPLE, the boys “were fixing to go to QT to get something to drink” when they smelled the fire. “It smelled kind of like burning rubber,” Dylan said. “Then, we heard the house alarm go off.”

Ritchie had been “getting ready for bed” at the time when she noticed that the head of her bed “was covered in flames.”

Fortunately, the teen boys were able to get into Ritchie’s house by breaking through the back door and found Ritchie in her hallway, trying to find her way out. The boys carried the 90-year-old out to safety.

Ritchie’s daughter, Missy, expressed her appreciation to the boys with an open letter. Missy told the boys how much she appreciated their bravery and thanked them for saving her mother. She said her family would never forget what the boys had done for them and told them Ritchie’s 42 grandchildren offered them a special thanks as well.

The boys said they appreciated the kind words of Missy and others who commended them for their actions. But each of them expressed they were just happy they were close and that Ritchie was safe.

“Ever since that night, my life has just changed … for the better,” Wyatt told ABC 7.

Ritchie had similar feelings and shared how grateful she was to the teens. “They were just special, as young as they were,” she said.

 

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