Firefighters and police officers in Roy, Utah, donated cash and gifts cards from their own pockets to a boy who watched his family’s home go up in flames on his birthday.
Tyten Sparks had just finished a special breakfast Wednesday and was preparing to go on an adventure for his 10th birthday with his mom and brother when he heard a rumbling noise in the garage of his family’s Roy home.
When Tyten felt heat outside the garage door, he quickly ran upstairs to alert his mom, Jacque Sparks.
“The fact that he felt the door and came to me right away is what saved our lives,” said Sparks, who ran out of the house with Tyten, her younger son, Knixus, 6, and the family’s pets. “All the damage to the house was done in about five minutes.”
Fire officials believe a malfunctioning motor in a refrigerator in the family’s garage caused the fire that damaged nearly the Sparks’ entire home and made it uninhabitable.
Along with their car, clothes, furniture and personal belongings, the family also lost all of Tyten’s birthday presents and the $36 Tyten had saved for an upcoming trip to Disneyland with his grandparents.
“They were pretty distraught,” Roy fire chief Jason Poulsen told ABC News. “After talking with the mom to find out what happened with the fire, she told us it was Tyten’s birthday and all of his gifts were inside.”
Poulsen reached out to the local police chief, whose officers also responded to the fire at the Sparks’ home, to see what they could do to help Tyten. The officials credited the quick actions of Tyten, who had received fire training at school, with saving the lives of his mom and brother.
“The fire chief brought it up and the minute we put it forth to the officers they were all for it,” police chief Carl Marino told ABC News. “These are pretty amazing officers and I’m lucky to be the chief of this group.”
The police officers joined local firefighters in donating cash and gift cards. The Roy Fire Association also donated $100, according to Poulsen.
On Thursday, a group of firefighters and police officers reunited with the Sparks family at their home to surprise Tyten and his brother with the gifts.
“It made him so happy,” Sparks said of Tyten, who received the cash and gift cards in a special jar. “And they added some extra stuff for my youngest son so he wasn’t feeling left out…the generosity has been absolutely amazing.”
The police officers and firefighters gave the brothers more than $250 in cash, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us gift cards and a $100 grocery store gift card for the family, Sparks said.
The message from the firefighters to Tyten was, “Good job taking care of your family. You did exactly what you were supposed to do,” according to Poulsen.
“He’s kind of a shy kid so some of this attention is kind of overwhelming for him but at the same time it gets the story out to other kids that you can do this too if you’re faced with adversity,” Poulsen said.
The Sparks family, including the boys’ father, Skyler Sparks, is now living with family members as they wait to move into a rental home. They plan to rebuild their home and say they are thankful for what they still have.
“Our house can be rebuilt but family can’t be replaced,” Jacque Sparks said.