COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — Anthony Lombardi and Mario Comella were riding their bikes through their Coventry neighborhood on New Year’s Day when they suddenly started hearing fire alarms going off nearby.
Once the two friends, ages 12 and 13, figured out it was coming from their neighbors’ house, they walked up the driveway to investigate.
Upon reaching the front door, Lombardi and Comella noticed smoke was quickly filling the home.
“We saw the dogs, they were panicking and barking, and it was so loud,” Lombardi recalled.
Unsure how to get inside, the boys contacted their friend who lives there.
After their friend gave them the code to unlock the front door, Lombardi and Comella immediately started calling out for the dogs.
Two of the family’s three dogs, Faith and Boo, immediately came running to the front door. But Chase, a German Shepherd puppy, was still locked inside his crate.
That’s when Comella ran inside, unlocked the crate and brought Chase to safety.
Athena DiBenedetto and John Salisbury, their friend’s parents, tell 12 News they were out to breakfast at the time. The boys’ heroic actions were caught on the couple’s security camera.
“With all of the smoke billowing in the house, he didn’t even think twice,” DiBenedetto said of Comella. “He ran in and let the dog out.”
The situation was a strange coincidence for Comella, whose uncle tragically lost his dogs in a fire one year ago.
“I was thinking, ‘this happened to my uncle, so I’m not going to let this happen to my friend,'” Comella said.
Salisbury said one of their dogs had accidentally turned on one of the burners to their stove, igniting a cutting board that had been placed on top of it.
“These are very easy to turn on, so she jumped up and put it on high,” he explained. “It smoldered for an hour.”
DiBenedetto said she’s extremely grateful for their quick thinking, which ultimately saved their dogs’ lives.
“It was very emotional,” DiBenedetto said. “Those are my babies.”
“I still can’t watch [the security video] without getting teary-eyed and thinking about what would have happened if they were there five or 10 minutes later,” Salisbury added.
While this situation had a positive outcome, Coventry Fire Chief Frank Brown is reminding everyone not to enter a burning building and to instead call 911 immediately.