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4 Oklahoma Teens Rush into Burning Home to Rescue Their 90-Year-Old Neighbor

"They were just special, as young as they were," said Catherine Ritchie

Three weeks ago, 16-year-old Seth Byrd and his three friends “were fixing to go to QT to get something to drink” when they smelled fire, he told Tulsa ABC affiliate KTUL.

“It smelled kind of like burning rubber. Then, we heard the house alarm go off,” 16-year-old Dylan Wick also told the news outlet.

For 58 years, Catherine Ritchie has lived in the same home in Sapulpa -- until three weeks ago.

"I was getting ready for bed in the bathroom, and I turned around, and my bed, the head of my bed, was covered in flames," Ritchie described.

That's where her heroes come in.

"We were just sitting around looking for something to do," said 17-year-old Wyatt Hall.

"We were actually fixing to leave ... We were fixing to go to QT to get something to drink," said 16-year-old Seth Byrd.

The four boys, 14 to 17 years old, went outside, and the first thing they noticed was the smell.

"It smelled kind of like burning rubber. Then, we heard the house alarm go off," said 16-year-old Dylan Wick.

Inside, Ritchie was trying to put the fire out before she gave up, calling 911 and hitting her emergency call button.

But, then came another problem.

"The smoke was so bad, I couldn't see to get out of my room," she said. "I felt along the wall, and I went into the closet instead of the door to get out of the room. I finally did get to the door."

While she tried to feel her way out, the boys jumped into action, trying to break down doors to get inside.

Nick Byrd, 14, managed to get through the back door and ran inside, finding Ritchie in the hall, lost in the smoke.

"This young boy was right there," she said. "He picked me up, and I said, 'I can walk,' and he said, 'We're getting out of here.'"

"I just kind of heard her," said Nick Byrd "I went to the right of the house, and no one was there. I went to the left of the house, and I saw her in the hallway, so I just grabbed her and took her to Seth."

Ritchie made it out safe. So did the boys, and firefighters stopped the flames before they spread.

Tulsa's Channel 8 was there Wednesday as the boys went into the home to see the damage and reflect on what happened.

"Ever since that night, my life has just changed ... for the better," said Hall as he looked at the burned mattress.

Ritchie has one word constantly on the tip of her tongue: grateful.

"That's what I have to think," said Ritchie. "They were just special, as young as they were."


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