Cal High School Fire


Doug Duran

California High School seniors, from left, Garen Kissoyan, 17, Kirill Yantikov, 17, and Peter Kravariotis, 17, talk while standing in front of the house where on Monday they saved a 94-year-old woman from a fire in San Ramon, Calif., on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The three were ditching class on Monday when they drove past the burning house and gained entrance saving an elderly woman and her 18-year old deaf and partly blind Jack Russell terrier. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) Photo credit:

On Monday March 17, three Cal High students along with a 76-year-old man saved an elderly woman and her adult daughter after their house caught on fire.

The three students, Peter Kravariotis (17), Kirill Yantikov (17), and Garen Kissoyan (17), were ditching class to pick up food from McDonald’s when they saw the smoke from the burning house. They struggled to see through the dense smoke and heavy soot, but Kissoyan saw the woman’s arm, and the three boys along with the help of the woman’s neighbor, Bob Smith, were able to carry her out of the burning house.

Kissoyan described the state of the house to the Contra Costa Times when he and his friends heard the woman screaming for help.

“There was so much black smoke, and all you could see was flames,” Kissoyan said. “We couldn’t even see the lady. She was covered in ash.”

Not only were the boys were able to rescue the 94-year-old woman and her adult daughter, but also her 18-year-old deaf and partly blind Jack Russell terrier.

When they saw the flames, Kirill said they couldn’t sit back and do nothing.

“We had to do something,” Kirill said.

The boys then rushed the woman to the backyard and called the fire dispatchers. They tried to put out the fire with a garden hose, until firefighters came and put it out within 45 minutes.

After the firefighters arrived at the scene and the boys made sure everyone was safe, they returned to school as if nothing had happened. The boys, who smelled strongly of smoke, were sent to Principal Mark Corti’s office, where they were shown the recording of them leaving the school, but also played a voicemail from Smith, explaining the situation. While the boys have to serve volunteer hours for the time they missed, they say they would do it again.

“It’s better than them giving us a detention,” Kravariotis said. “If that ever happened again, I know we would go into a burning house.”

Monte Vista Senior Yvonne Aha agrees with the decision that the three Cal High students made.

“They did a very heroic thing, and that makes up for the fact that they ditched school,” Aha said. “If I had been in that situation, I would have done the same thing and helped the woman.”