After a family lost everything in a fire, firefighters pitch in for new Christmas gifts

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CHICAGO — When firefighters responded to an apartment devastated by flames on the Northwest Side last week, they couldn't help but notice the burned Christmas tree and scorched toys on the floor.

"It’s the same damage that happens in June to people’s buildings," CFD Battalion Chief John Richards said. "But when you see Christmas trees burned and the toys… it touches your heart a little bit more."

As they thought about the family that lost pretty much everything in the fire, firefighters on the scene got an idea.

"I had a Lieutenant Maj, who’s on Engine 89 call me and said that we was thinking about it, and asked if we could take a collection up for the people," Richards said.

The word went out, and the station collected hundreds of dollars and new Christmas gifts. That's much to the delight of nearly 2 year-old Omar, whose toys were the ones destroyed in the fire.

"He was very excited — he got a lot of toys and all of them burned," mom Heidy Quito said. "We were just glad that no one was home, no one got hurt."

While the Quito family will now need to rebuild their lives in a new year, they'll be helped out in a small way by the members of Engine 89, Battalion 10, and the Chicago Fire Department.

"I’m real proud of the job they did that night and just even more proud of putting this together," Richards said.

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