Ditching school is usually a bad thing—but in California on Monday, skipping class enabled three teens to become heroes. Garen Kissoyan, Peter Kravariotis, and Kirill Yantikov, all 17-year-old seniors at San Ramon's California High School, were driving down the street on their way to McDonald's when they saw smoke coming from the back of a house. Then, they saw Dianna Davis in the garage, calling 911—and she told them her elderly mother was still inside the house, NBC Bay Area reports. "We ... had the same instinct," Kravariotis says. "Just go in the house, so we did."
The smoke was dense, but they managed to find Davis' 94-year-old mother—covered in soot. They carried her and her dog to safety as she screamed, "I'm on fire. I'm on fire," the San Jose Mercury News reports. "All you could see was flames," Kissoyan says. "We couldn't even see the lady. She was covered in ash." She is recovering in a burn unit. The teens returned to school smelling of smoke, but were quickly called to the principal's office. He had a recording of them cutting class—and a voicemail from the woman's neighbor explaining what happened and asking the principal to go easy on them. They must serve four volunteer hours, but the principal tells KTVU he is "exceptionally proud" of the teens nonetheless. (Read more timeless news stories.)